James Harden: 'This is the year' for Houston Rockets

NBA.com Global on Mar 01, 2018 10:44 AM
James Harden: 'This is the year' for Houston Rockets
FILE - OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- APRIL 23: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four during the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

Being in the midst of a 13-game win streak and holding the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA standings has made life grand for the Houston Rockets of late. To star guard and Kia MVP contender James Harden, this is the best things have ever been for him in Houston.

Roughly a month after boasting about his team's chances for their first NBA Finals run since 1995, Harden continues to praise the state of the Rockets. In an interview with ESPN.com's Jovan Buha, Harden went out of his way to praise the Rockets' team chemistry and depth.

Superstar guard and MVP front-runner James Harden says he believes the 2017-18 season is "the year" for the Houston Rockets.

"This is the year. For sure," Harden told ESPN on Tuesday in an exclusive interview when asked what his expectations for the Rockets are this season.

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When asked how the Rockets, who are in the midst of a 13-game win streak and have the best record in the NBA at 47-13 (a half-game ahead of the Golden State Warriors), are coming together post-All-Star break, Harden couldn't help but gush about how great the season has been and how this team is probably the best one on which he has ever played.

"The front office -- [general manager] Daryl Morey and [CEO] Tad Brown -- those guys did an unbelievable job," Harden said. "From last year, bringing [Eric Gordon] and [Ryan Anderson] over. Then obviously adding [Chris Paul] and [PJ Tucker] and [Luc Mbah a Moute] and then you get [Gerald Green] and Joe Johnson.

"This is probably the best team I've ever been a part of, from top to bottom. The chemistry that we have, included with the coaching staff -- I mean, we're having a lot of fun."

The Rockets have made the playoffs every season since Harden arrived in 2012-13. But, they have only been to the Western Conference finals once, losing to the Warriors in five games in 2015. Harden carried Houston to the Western Conference semifinals last season, where they fell in six games to the San Antonio Spurs.

Houston visits the LA Clippers tonight and Harden says he is anticipating a playoff-like atmosphere given the Rockets' neck-and-neck battle with the Warriors for No. 1 in the West. The Rockets have a 1/2 game lead over the Warriors for that spot.

"So it's going to be a playoff atmosphere in there," Harden said. "You can expect every game from here on out to be a playoff atmosphere. That's what we need. Nothing changes for us. We need to go out there and execute and just try to keep our streak alive."

In a January interview with ESPN's The Undefeated, Harden had lofty praise for the Rockets, saying "we are for real as it can get."  In that interview, he praised playing along side Paul and center Clint Capela -- a combination that is 30-1 when playing together.

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