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Mike D’Antoni expects Chris Paul to lighten James Harden’s load

The Houston Rockets likely wouldn’t have come as far as the second round of last season’s playoffs if it weren’t for James Harden, but the team could’ve also passed the test of the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals if the bearded guard had some more help. And with the arrival of Chris Paul to H-Town, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is hoping that his team would do just that next time now that he has the luxury of having arguably the best backcourt in the NBA today.

In a sit-down interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio, D’Antoni believed that Harden tired out in the conference semis against San Antonio and that with Paul in tow, the load shouldn’t be that heavy for Harden moving forward.

Harden, who is fresh off inking a rich four-year, $228 million extension deal with the Rockets, almost single-handedly carried the team in the playoffs, wherein he led Houston in points (28.5) and assists (8.5) per game. No one aside from Harden put up more than 11.1 points per game with the likes of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon choosing a bad time to turn into ghosts. Harden’s usage rate throughout the playoffs was 35.3 percent, higher than the 34.2 percent he registered in the regular season.

With Paul bound to completely inherit the point guard duties from Harden, the latter is expected to focus more on putting up buckets and less on setting up teammates. Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 8.1 rebounds per game last season for the Rockets. Paul, on the other hand, posted 18.1 points and 9.2 dimes per contest last season for the L.A. Clippers.