James Harden Calls Houston Rockets the Best Team in the NBA

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIMarch 10, 2014

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) screams after hitting a 3-point shot as Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson (1) looks off in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 7, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets sport a five-game win streak, which includes statement victories against the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers. They have an NBA-best 23-6 record since the New Year, which prompted All-Star shooting guard James Harden to label his squad the best in the league.

“Yes. Yes. We are,” Harden told NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury.

The bearded one has every reason to be confident following a monster game in overtime against the Trail Blazers on March 9. He poured in 41 points on 12-of-28 shooting (7-of-12 from three, 10-of-11 from the charity stripe) to go with 10 rebounds, six assists and six steals. He also logged a season-high 47 minutes.

Small forward Chandler Parsons was less blunt in his response.

“We’re playing well. We don’t think we’re done. We’re not getting arrogant or conceited or anything, but we think we can play with anybody and we’ve proved that this week. It’s fun because we know we can even get better,” he told Blinebury.

Houston is winning consistently and beating worthy opponents, but even with the streak of success, it holds the third-best record in the Western Conference—two games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder and 2.5 behind the San Antonio Spurs.

The Rockets have looked downright unbeatable in recent months, but Bleacher Report’s Jim Cavan is erring on the side of caution:

With a full month and change left before the playoffs, it’s fair to wonder whether Houston is peaking prematurely—whether it can truly sustain the gangbusters play of the past few weeks.

The Rockets offense is an elite one—that much is clear. But if they hope to even sniff the NBA Finals, they’ll have to prove that their suddenly solid defense is more than just a flash in the regular-season pan.

It's difficult to fault Harden's swagger and overall confident attitude, but the Rockets will ultimately be judged by what they're able to do in the postseason.

Nobody remembers the squad that started 5-0 in March, only the roster that keeps on winning through the NBA Finals.

Houston has looked better and better as the season chugs along and, for all we know, it may actually be the best team in the Association at this very moment.

The Thunder have sputtered of late, even falling to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers 114-110 on March 9. The Pacers have lost four in a row, while the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are on a three-game skid.

The San Antonio Spurs have won six straight games, but four of those have come against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats—not exactly elite competition.

Harden and Co. still have plenty to prove in a playoff atmosphere, but the league is starting to take notice of Houston's elite status.