James Harden believes the Rockets have shown in consecutive big wins over the Jazz that they are “almost” peaking in the playoffs.
The Rockets lead their first-round series, 2-0, winning 122-90 in Game 1 and 118-98 in Wednesday’s Game 2.
Harden has been particularly encouraged by Houston’s defensive efforts in those two games and wants to see the team maintain its performance as it makes a run toward the NBA Finals.
“We’re almost there,” he told reporters. “Holding a good team, the Jazz, to under 100 points two games in a row.
“The series starts now. We have to go on the road and have the same energy — especially on the defensive end. The offense, I’m not worried about. We’ve been a great offensive team all year, but defensively, we’re locked in.
“When I talk about ‘where we want to be,’ that’s because of our defense. If we guard like that and get into their bodies and rebound the basketball and push the tempo in transition, it’s pretty hard to beat us.”
A Playoff Triple-Double For The MVP
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 18, 2019
Harden is in the MVP running, alongside the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he was typically influential against the Jazz in Game 2, scoring a 32-point triple-double.
The now standard “M-V-P!” chants from the home crowd roared Harden on, yet he insists that he needs no motivation to perform.
“There’s nothing that anybody can say to get me going — I’m already going,” he said. “I’ve been going like this for the last five years.
“Those chants are just pretty normal. I focus on the game and what I need to do and being the best player on the court every night.”