25. How long until stories about James Harden and Chris Paul disliking each other appear?
What I Said Then: Right after the first game. The moment the clock ticks zero on opening night, you’ll be able to read at least three major stories with a headline that says, “James Harden frustrated with Chris Paul.”
Chris Paul and James Harden will figure it out. Great players who want to win almost always figure it out. But until they figure it, they’re going to hate each other according to unnamed sources.
What I’m Saying Now: I’m an idiot. Not only did Harden and Paul beat the Warriors in the first game of the season, they beat a lot of teams this season. They not only co-existed, they thrived. Heading into the playoffs, they’re the favorites to win the title. They figured it out in game one and never slowed down.
Paul’s early season injury benefitted the Rockets dynamic. As he sat on the bench watching Harden go nuclear in every game, he knew what he was coming back to. This was Harden’s team. Paul deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that and not fighting it. He took over when he needed to, but for the most part, he laid back and let Harden dictate.
In a guard driven league, the Rockets had 48 minutes of elite point guard play every night.
I’m convinced that the Rockets are now unstoppable and won’t lose a single game in the playoffs. Maybe they lose a game if Harden doesn’t go to the line 10 times, but that’s unlikely to happen. Sorry, 15 other teams, you’re all fighting for second place. Houston has things wrapped up.