james harden

John Wall, James Harden‘ (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison

*The Houston Rockets’ James Harden has compared himself to legendary sprinter Usain Bolt after a special surge from baseline-to-baseline allowed him to net the basket.

The 27-year-old is not known for his express pace, but he channelled in his inner sprinter to net a crucial score in his side’s win over the Denver Nuggets.

Harden even admited that he surprised himself with his speed and stamina to net the two-pointer at the Toyota Center. “I was running so fast, I feel like I was faster than that,” Harden said. “I felt like Usain Bolt.”

This is the lastest higlight from Harden, who has been in outstanding form this term for the Rockets, with an excellent level of performance required from him due to the departure of eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard to the Atlanta Hawks.

Harden has managed to surpass all expectations of his play this season, breaking his own career-high mark for points per game along with assists and rebounds, almost single-handedly driving the club to the playoffs.

The 27-year-old has been sensational this term and is in an intense battle with Russell Westbrook to be named MVP for the first time in his career.

It would cap a fine season if he were to guide his side into the Finals, but he along with his teammates know that the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs lay in wait down the stretch, with the Rockets backed at +850 in the latest bet365 NBA odds to win the Western Conference and advance to the championship game.

Houston will look at the example of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-15 campaign as a fine example of what can be achieved with one star and contributors playing to their peak around him. Obviously, D’Antoni will want to see a better result than the Cavs experienced a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Harden has been the driving force of his side’s surge to the post-season, but in the playoffs he cannot be left to do it all on his own. The club have split their two matches against the Warriors this term, losing at home, but taking the victory at Oracle Arena. In their defeat, Harden was limited, and despite a strong performance from Clint Capela from the bench, it was not enough to stem the tide.

mike d antoniMike D’Antoni‘ (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison

When Houston beat Kerr’s men, Harden notched 29 points, but was also aided by Ryan Anderson, who matched his efforts. Mike D’Antoni’s men will need that sort of display in abundance down the stretch from their complementary players, although even that might not be enough to steer them past both the Warriors and the Spurs.

Their most recent defeat to Gregg Popovich’s men proved that even Harden’s best could not deliver the win. The 27-year-old notched 39 points, and will have had the empathy of LeBron James, as his superb performance was not rewarded with a victory, with the Spurs edging to a two-point victory.

Harden will have to be flawless and have the support of Anderson, Capela, Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon to drive the Rockets to their ultimate goal of a third championship.