James Harden on Playoff Run: 'I Want That Feeling Again'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2018

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, right, drives against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Houston Rockets superstar guard James Harden says he's eager for the opportunity to make another deep run in the NBA playoffs.

The reigning MVP spoke to reporters Thursday at the Team USA minicamp about trying to push for a championship.

"That was a good feeling, but that feeling that I had in that Western Conference Finals, with basically one half to go," Harden said. "I know [Chris Paul] got hurt, but that one half, that feeling, I need that feeling back. I'll try to work my butt off and mentally lock in as much as I can to get back to that feeling."

The Rockets pushed the eventual champion Golden State Warriors to Game 7 in the conference finals before suffering a nine-point loss without Paul.

Although Houston is once again a top contender to end Golden State's reign atop the NBA, the West added another threat with LeBron James' arrival to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, two important secondary contributors, in free agency, but they are expected to sign Carmelo Anthony when he officially becomes a free agent after getting traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst. The move would happen after Atlanta waives Anthony.

"We lost a couple key pieces, and we still have a couple more key pieces to get," Harden said. "As long as we get our key guys back, re-sign Clint [Capela], and the guys we have continue to get better, I have all the faith [in the team]."

Houston is listed with the fourth-best NBA title odds for the 2018-19 season behind the Warriors, Boston Celtics and Lakers, according to OddsShark.

Between Harden, Paul and likely Anthony, the Rockets have the necessary star power to contend in the superteam era. Their title chances will likely hinge on whether they get enough production from role players like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.

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