HOUSTON -- James Harden remembers all too well what happened the last time he and the Houston Rockets faced the Boston Celtics.
It was, and still is, the most epic of comebacks this season for the Celtics. And that’s saying a lot, considering how often Boston has rallied from double-digits deficits for wins.
When these two met a few days after Christmas, Boston rallied from a 26-point deficit and emerged with a 99-98 win.
So when I asked Harden about his biggest takeaway from that game, his response was clear and succinct.
“We had them beat; we had them beat,” he said. “We just have to finish the game off.”
Boston made several plays in the closing minutes, but arguably none bigger than the two offensive fouls Marcus Smart drew against Harden.
With that particular matchup playing such a pivotal role in the game’s outcome, it only made sense for the MVP candidate to have some thoughts on those plays or Smart’s play in general.
So I asked him about Marcus Smart.
“I don’t know,” said Harden, followed by a couple seconds of silence with him then saying, “Next question.”
While Harden was mum on Smart’s play, his coach, Mike D’Antoni, had plenty to say.
“Certain guys have to play with an edge. That’s why they got to the NBA; they play with that edge,” D’Antoni said. “I think that’s great. Marcus has been one of the better [defensive] players in the league. However he plays, he plays with a determination that very few people have in this league. That’s what makes him good.”