With Kevin Durant And LaMarcus Aldridge Injuries, Could MVP Candidate James Harden And The Houston Rockets Win The West?

on Mar 14, 2017 05:57 PM EDT

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James Harden

James Harden scored 38 points, and notched a triple-double in a marquee win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Could the Houston Rockets make their way all the way to the Finals? (Photo : YouTube Screencap)

The Houston Rockets are still 6 ½ games behind the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio who share the league’s best record. But with the sprained MCL and bone bruise that Kevin Durant is yet to recover from, along with the recent heart ailment that has LaMarcus Aldridge out of action indefinitely, could James Harden’s potential MVP season propel the high-octane Houston Rockets out of the Western Conference?

As noted by ESPN, with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, the Houston Rockets will clinch a playoff spot, which according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) will give them a 98.4 chance of holding on to the third seed. That would make their two most likely first round opponents either the Oklahoma City Thunder (57 percent chance as per BPI) and the Memphis Grizzlies (34 percent chance). The Houston Rockets, behind James Harden have taken two of the three regular season games so far against the Thunder, while they have split their season series with the Grizzlies.

With the way the Houston Rockets have been rolling all season, it doesn’t look like either the Thunder (even with the inevitable Russell Westbrook 50-point triple double) or the Grizzlies will have enough to upset James Harden’s crew, which brings us to the question of the critical second round. However the race for the first seed plays out, there’s a chance Houston will have to play either the Spurs or the Warriors. The question is, will either Kevin Durant or LaMarcus Aldridge be in uniform when their teams eventually face the Rockets? And that, as pointed out by The Vertical, is an advantage the Rockets could have.

That would be a big factor should James Harden look to have a shot at a Finals rematch with LeBron James. Another interesting possibility is if one of the two (or even both) Western Conference-leading teams suffer an upset in the first round should they play without one of their main stars. The Warriors, particularly, have struggled of late with Kevin Durant out, going just 5-5 in their last 10 games.

James Harden might well be the Houston Rockets’ first player since Hakeem Olajuwon to win regular season MVP. But if he is to have a chance at getting the Finals version of the trophy, he might need to get some help from lady luck.

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