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James Harden, Luka Doncic to face off after they each missed a game

James Harden-Rockets drama timeline, James Harden trade, Houston Rockets, James Harden-Rockets timeline

Houston Rockets guard James Harden missed Saturday’s win over the Sacramento Kings with an ankle issue, but “The Beard” will be available for Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Harden is listed as “Available” in the NBA’s latest Injury Report. Mavericks star Luka Doncic is also listed as “Probable” after missing Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Harden has practically swallowed entire news cycle for the past month-plus after he demanded a trade from the Rockets. He has given no indication he has softened on his stance, but a deal might not be as imminent as previously thought.

The Philadelphia 76ers had been widely considered one of the top suitors for James Harden and the team most likely to get a deal done if they included Ben Simmons.

But Philly is 5-1 to begin the season, with Simmons excelling as a playmaker and defensive stalwart and Joel Embiid off to one of his best individual starts. It is entirely possible–likely even–the Sixers become less and less amenable to a trade if the winning continues.

Meanwhile, the Rockets might also prefer to wait things out.

Houston got back to the .500 mark (2-2) after Saturday’s win over the Kings. John Wall and Christian Wood have looked strong in the early goings, which projects well as the team continues to build chemistry and grow under first-year head coach Stephen Silas.

James Harden has also been in his bag. The 31-year-old is averaging 37.0 points, 11.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds through his first three games while shooting over 52 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Perhaps Harden is still fuming internally. But, if tonight’s status is any indication, he is wanting to play and not take extra days off. The Rockets will hope winning follows.

Doncic has struggled to shoot the ball early (just 16 percent from deep), but will try to get the ball rolling and build momentum after a strong performance in a win over the Miami Heat on Friday.