Jeremy Lin and James Harden Will Lead Rockets to NBA Playoffs

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  James Harden #13 and Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets wait for a play against the New York Knicks at the Toyota Center on November 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, bagainst the Newy downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin and James Harden are starting to play very well together, and this partnership will help the Houston Rockets earn a playoff spot in the Western Conference this season.

Some of the Rockets' early-season struggles were created by the lack of chemistry between these two guards, which was understandable, since neither of them had ever played together at this level.

Both Lin and Harden excel when the ball is in their hands for most of each offensive possession, so finding a balance between them was going to take some time.

It now appears that they have finally figured out how to excel when on the court at the same time, and this was evident in the team's impressive 120-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.

Harden led the Rockets with 26 points and Lin finished with 20 points, helping Houston defeat another top-tier team from the Eastern Conference.

The Rockets have now won six of their last seven games, including victories over top Eastern Conference teams such as the Bulls, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

Lin and Harden have been fantastic for the Rockets during the team's current four-game winning streak, and the stats help tell the story.

Jeremy Lin James Harden
Opponent Points Assists -- Points Assists
at Bulls 20 11   26 6
vs. Grizzlies 15 11   31 8
vs. 76ers 18 6   33 7
at Knicks 22 8   28 3

If Lin and Harden continue to play well, it's going to be tough for teams to beat the Rockets because this guard duo is one of the league's best.

Houston ranks first in the NBA in scoring and seventh in assists, and the Lin/Harden combo is a major reason for these impressive rankings.

Houston must keep playing at a high level to earn a postseason berth because the Western Conference playoff race is going to be very competitive. Teams six through 13 in the West standings are only separated by 4.5 games.

As Lin and Harden build even more chemistry together, they will lead the Rockets to the playoffs. Both of them provide a lot of scoring and intelligent offensive play to their team in each game.

They are each capable of taking and making important shots in late-game situations. A lot of teams don't have two players with this ability.

Thanks to their depth and the improving Lin/Harden combo, the Rockets will make the playoffs this year and give their first-round opponent a great series.

Houston's defense must improve for a deep playoff run, but the team's three-year playoff drought should end this season.