James Harden met with reporters Sunday afternoon to talk about the Houston Rockets’ first round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden called the matchup with the Thunder “surreal.” He said it felt weird but then did say that ultimately, it’s still just basketball.
It must be very strange for Harden indeed. He made a huge decision for his career turning down the contract the Thunder offered him and going to Houston and now there’s no place to hide from the reality of that decision.
The pressure is on Harden more than ever. It might not get any tougher than Game 1 in front of a rowdy Chesapeake Energy Arena.
I predict that Harden will struggle in this situation. It will be more like his first game in OKC this season where he went 3-for-16 and had his shot blocked seven times than when he dropped a career-high 46 on the Thunder in Houston a few months later.
The Thunder are going to do everything in their power to make Harden’s first playoff game in a non-Thunder uniform a nightmare. OKC has the tools to succeed at this.
It will be interesting to see how the Thunder crowd reacts to Harden. There will probably be some booing but maybe not the entire crowd.
Harden will need to play the best game of his life to make it out alive tonight. Chances are, he’ll walk off the court after Game 1 with his head down.