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James Harden on playing in Utah: ‘I don’t worry about the fans’

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets absolutely dismantled the Utah Jazz in the first two games of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series, winning by a combined 52 points.

It’s going to be a completely different monster on the road in Utah, starting Game 3 this coming weekend. Jazz fans are known for being some of the loudest in the NBA.

Equally as important, recent incidents suggest that there might be a bit more to the scene inside Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook was on the receiving end of racially-charged remarks in a game this past regular season. It led to a Jazz fan being banned for life and Russ himself being fined by the NBA.

In talking about what promises to be a hostile environment ahead of Game 3 on Saturday, Harden has a pretty level-headed response.

“Yeah, but like I said I don’t really pay attention to the crowd and the fans,” Harden said of the Jazz fans, via Deseret News. “The job that I have to do is already hard enough so you can’t listen to other stuff that you can’t control and just add extra stuff to your plate that you can’t worry about.”

This makes a ton of sense. Harden can’t get caught up in the environment and what might be thrown his way over the next two games. That’s the only way Utah will be able to avoid a sweep.

In terms of home-court advantage over the next few days, Utah posted a 29-12 record at Vivint during the regular season. Meanwhile, Houston was 22-19 on the road.