In the start of an extended stretch of home games at Toyota Center, former Rockets star James Harden appears poised to return to the lineup — albeit with limited minutes — when Philadelphia visits Houston on Monday night.
Harden, a perennial All-Star and MVP over eight-plus seasons with the Rockets, hasn’t played since Nov. 2 due to a right foot tendon strain. But playing in his adopted hometown clearly brings Harden joy, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is his return date.
“I still live here,” Harden said Sunday, as relayed by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. I’ve got a lot of family, friends, and people here that come. This is home. There’s a love (from Rockets’ fans), and the feeling is mutual. That’s never going to change.”
After playing 15 of their first 23 games of the 2022-23 season on the road — making for the NBA’s biggest discrepancy — Monday’s game begins a run where Jalen Green and the Rockets will play eight of their next nine within the friendly confines of Toyota Center. In a scheduing quirk, they won’t leave Texas again until after Christmas.
When and How to Watch
Date: Monday, Dec. 5
Time: 7:00 p.m. Central
TV Channel: AT&T SportsNet Southwest, NBA League Pass
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free in Houston markets)
Probable starting lineups
Houston Rockets (6-17)
Guard: Kevin Porter Jr.
Guard: Jalen Green
Forward: Eric Gordon
Forward: Jabari Smith Jr.
Center: Alperen Sengun
Philadelphia 76ers (12-11)
Guard: De’Anthony Melton
Guard: James Harden
Forward: PJ Tucker
Forward: Tobias Harris
Center: Joel Embiid
Projected lineups are primarily based on each team’s most recent game. The lone exceptions are the anticipated returns of Harden and Eric Gordon, who sat out Saturday’s Rockets game for planned maintenance on night two of a back-to-back.
Houston’s injury report lists Jae’Sean Tate (sore right ankle) as out, while Philadelphia will be missing Tyrese Maxey (left foot fracture). Harden, Georges Niang (right foot soreness), and Jaden Springer (right quad strain) are all officially listed as questionable, though all indications Sunday were that Harden appears poised to play.