The Houston Rockets had a magical run last season that was, unfortunately for them, torpedoed by an untimely injury to Chris Paul. They were one win away from the NBA Finals and a chance to take home the franchise’s first title since the mid-90s glory days of Hakeem Olajuwon and company.
Now, the rest of the league is ready for them. Despite losing some key defenders and perimeter threats this summer, they are still widely considered the second-best team in the West, which means a bevy of other conference upstarts and stalwarts will be gunning for them this year.
James Harden already understands this, and he’s been trying to prepare his teammates mentally for what it’s going to be like when opponents try to rattle them by coming at them physically, and how these incidents can escalate quickly like they did during this weekend’s brawl that resulted in suspensions to key figures on both sides.