James Harden Says Rockets Are Finding Rhythm at 'Perfect Time' After Celtics Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2019

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 03:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on during a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 3, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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The 2018-19 season hasn't gone entirely according to plan for the Houston Rockets, but James Harden believes the stars are aligning at the right moment for the team.

"It feels really, really good to kind of have a full roster and catch a rhythm," Harden said after Houston's 115-104 win over the Boston Celtics, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. "This is a perfect time for it. We haven't had an opportunity to push, push, push. This is a perfect time to push, push, push and catch a groove going into the postseason."

The Rockets moved on from Carmelo Anthony after just 10 games and got off to an 11-14 start, which at the time was the Western Conference's second-worst record. It was almost the worst-case scenario for Mike D'Antoni's squad.

Nobody expected Houston to continue playing that poorly, but a repeat of last year's Western Conference Finals appearance appeared highly unlikely.

However, since their 107-104 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 8, the Rockets are fifth in net rating (4.8), per NBA.com.

Harden is the biggest reason why. With Chris Paul and Clint Capela both missing extended stretches, the reigning MVP had to put the rest of the team on his back. He's averaging a league-high 36.7 points along with 7.6 assists and 2.2 steals. According to Basketball Reference, his 40.35 percent usage rate is on pace to be the second-highest in NBA history.

Harden doesn't necessarily have to continue shouldering that kind of load with Paul and Capela back healthy. The midseason additions of Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried have also provided the depth the Rockets sorely needed when the year began.

With Sunday's win, Houston is only a game out of third place in the West, which is important since it would mean avoiding the Golden State Warriors until the conference finals.

The Rockets would obviously be an underdog against the Warriors in a seven-game playoff series, but the matchup might not be as one-sided as it would've looked a few months ago.