James Harden’s relationship with Chris Paul while the two were Houston Rockets teammates has been well-documented. Harden has taken the high road since Paul was traded, but there was reportedly tension when the guard played in Houston. As Harden prepares to take on the Thunder in the playoffs, the Rockets star denied that anything was “personal” with Paul.
“I don’t ever take anything personal,” Harden noted, per USA Today. “I’m trying to win games, and I’m trying to win a playoff series. I take it one possession at a time, one game at a time. My role on this team is to go out and perform at a high level, but also to be a leader and make sure that guys that are around me all have that same mindset. If I can do that, then I can give us a chance to win, especially with Russell [Westbrook] being out.”
As for Paul, the point guard played coy when asked about how the Thunder planned to guard Harden.
“I don’t know. We got different ideas over here,” Paul told the Daily Thunder. “He has a [unique] way of scoring on a nightly basis.”
Tucker on Paul: ‘He Wants This Bad’
Paul is sure to have extra motivation to win the playoff series against his former team. Rockets big man P.J. Tucker believes Paul “wants this bad” as the Rockets-Thunder square off in the first round.
“I think it’ll be fun. Knowing him, he wants this bad,” Tucker told Sports Talk 790’s Adam Wexler. “I know he wants this bad. It’s going to be an interesting series, It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it for sure.”
The main difference from Paul’s tenure with the Rockets has been the addition of Russell Westbrook. Paul understands just how key the point guard has been to the Rockets’ success but his status for the series remains up in the air.
“We gonna see. Russ has been unbelievable as dynamic as he is,” Paul said, per Daily Thunder. “They got a solid team.”
Westbrook Is Expected to Miss the Start of the Rockets-Thunder Series
The Rockets have not revealed an exact timeline for Westbrook’s injury, but the All-Star is expected to miss the start of the first round. Westbrook is dealing with a strained quadricep but was seen taking shots during a recent Rockets practice.
“These can be a difficult injury, especially for a player like Westbrook who performs with such force,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. “Clearly, Westbrook is a unique individual with a proven capacity to play through physical adversity. In Bubble playoffs, less time between games — essentially every other day.”
Westbrook may miss the beginning of the series, but the guard seems intent on playing sooner rather than later. As the playoffs tipped off, Westbrook tweeted out a message.
“LOCKed 🔒 IN!!! See y’all later!!! ✌🏾#whynot,” Westbrook noted.