Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

James Harden arrives in NBA’s Orlando restart bubble

James Harden arrives

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 02: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 02, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. New York Knicks defeated the Houston Rockets 125-123. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Turns out the Beard is feeling fine — Tuesday night he arrived in Orlando for the NBA’s restart.

James Harden arrives five days after his teammates — without an explanation as to why — and now must pass three coronavirus tests before he can join his teammates on the practice court.

Harden is the first of the Rockets’ two superstars to arrive. Russell Westbrook self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He is quarantining at home and expects to join the team in Orlando when healthy, but there is no timetable.

Harden, a perennial MVP candidate, is critical to making the Rockets’ micro-ball system work. He is averaging a league-best 34.4 points a game, plus pitches in 7.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds a night. His isolation play is the heart of the Rockets’ halfcourt offense.

Houston enters the bubble as the sixth seed in a crowded West, just one game out of the four seed, 2.5 out of the three seed, but also 1.5 from falling back to the seven seed. Houston and Mike D’Antoni have gone all-in on playing small — the Rockets don’t start anyone taller than 6'6" — and with that become one of the most interesting teams in Orlando. If this team got bounced in the first round of the playoffs it wouldn’t be a shock, but it’s also not out of the question they could reach the conference finals. This is an unpredictable team.

It was never going to work without Harden and Westbrook. Now half of the tandem is in Orlando.