It’s been a rough year for hoops. The NBA suffered through a four-month hiatus, and even though the season has successfully resumed in Orlando and the postseason is underway, the circumstances are wildly different from what we’re all accustomed to, and that could be the case for the foreseeable future.
Still, the basketball goods have seen fit to bless us with a first-round matchup that pits the Rockets against the Thunder, a series loaded with intrigue and juggling so many storylines that it’s hard to keep track of all the narrative threads. We’ll get our first taste of it when Game 1 tips off on Tuesday afternoon.
But as far as the interpersonal drama is concerned, James Harden, for his part, claims that he isn’t subscribing to the notion that there’s lingering animosity between him and former teammate Chris Paul, who the Rockets traded to the Thunder last summer for Russell Westbrook.
“I don’t ever take anything personal. 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.”
Paul also tried to downplay in a recent interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, admitting that the two don’t communicate with each other but also saying that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have beef with one another.
Chris Paul very candid on where his relationship stands with James Harden leading up to the Thunder meeting the Rockets tonight on @NBAonTNT: “He’s not going to hit me to tell my daughter Happy Birthday today.” pic.twitter.com/MOalfyjDRE
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 18, 2020
During their tenure in Houston, the Rockets came close to ending the Warriors’ run but ultimately fell short, in part because of untimely injuries. Game 1 of the Rockets-Thunder series in Orlando kicks off at 6:30 ET on TNT.