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Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni hoping James Harden will return Saturday vs. Bulls

James Harden, Mike D'Antoni, Rockets, Bulls

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden is doubtful to return on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets, but head coach Mike D’Antoni is hopeful he could take the court on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

Harden has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain, one he declared not as serious as the one he suffered last season, which kept him out for the first seven games of the calendar year.

The Rockets are off to a 1-5 start to the season and face problems at both ends of the floor, with a defense that can’t stop fouling and an offense that has misfired plenty through the early get-go.

Houston has dealt with absences from James Harden and Chris Paul, but the defense suffered a permanent hit with the loss of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, two capable perimeter defenders capable of switching to several positions. The Rockets’ switch-happy defense is no longer the same, and teams have looked for ways to exploit that on a nightly basis, ranking 24th on defense through the young season after suffering four different double-digit losses.

The offensive efficiency is not the best either, ranking 25th thanks a to a wad of missed 3-pointers in D’Antoni’s 3-heavy system.

If the team is to make a 180-degree turn, it’ll have to start with Harden’s return to the court, as the team tries to figure how to turn it all around after winning a franchise-best 65 games last season.