James Harden got a little cocky a little too early on Wednesday night.
Early in Game 2 of the Houston Rockets-Utah Jazz first round playoff series, Harden shook Ricky Rubio with a stepback move. Rubio was so lost that Harden had a few seconds of empty space to clown around and do a shimmy. The only problem is Harden missed the shot:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 18, 2019
As they said on Shaqtin’ A Fool, that’s a million dollar move and a 10 cent finish.
Million dollar move…
— Shaqtin' a Fool (@shaqtin) April 18, 2019
Sadly for Rubio, that might not be the worst he’s taken from Harden. This crossover in 2015 was pretty bad too.
The Utah Jazz have drawn a very tough first-round playoff matchup against the Houston Rockets, and it goes without saying that their biggest challenge will be defending James Harden. Patrick Beverley may or may not be trying to help them handle that.
After Utah’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, Beverley was seen having an animated conversation with Jazz forward Jae Crowder. Judging by the body language, many felt Beverley was giving Crowder pointers on how to defend Harden.
— Todd Patton (@ToddPatton) April 11, 2019
There’s no way to know for sure, but that’s probably a good guess. Beverley, who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team back in 2017, is considered one of the better defenders in the league. He was also teammates with Harden in Houston. Crowder is another defensive-minded player, and he has done a solid job against star players like LeBron James in the past.
Harden averaged an incredible 36.1 points per game during the regular season, so the Jazz will likely look for ways to slow him down rather than stop him. Regardless of what one NBA announcer thinks of Harden’s style of play, it seems to be working for Houston.
There is no NBA player whose style of play is more polarizing than James Harden’s. Many people do not like his style of iso ball, the way he constantly draws fouls, and how he shuffles his feat on his stepback. One announcer seemed to take thing further than most criticism, saying Harden’s style is like “cheating.”
During the Los Angeles Clippers’ home loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, Clippers TV analyst Don MacLean compared Harden’s style to almost cheating the game and said that it wasn’t basketball.
"This style, what Harden does, is manipulating the game somehow. Almost like cheating it somehow" pic.twitter.com/Rygn1GL9TU
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 4, 2019
Harden had 31 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the game. He’s bumped up his scoring averages in six straight seasons and is averaging a career-best 36.3 points per game. Many people just don’t like watching the way he plays, though a good deal seem to be impressed by it.
One All-Star recently talked about what makes Harden so difficult to guard, and never one did he suggest it was due to improper style.
How did James Harden celebrate his 61-point game on Friday night? By putting in more work.
Harden shared a video on Instagram after leading the Houston Rockets to a 111-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs that showed him working out. He was doing weight work and other exercises to work on his balance.
The Rockets have won 13 of their last 15 games, with Harden scoring at least 57 points in three of those contests. He’s now averaging an unreal 36.5 points per game and making it very difficult to go against him in MVP talks.
Even the NBA’s best defenders have issues dealing with James Harden, and one of those defenders explained why the Houston Rockets star is so hard to guard.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler, regarded as an excellent perimeter defender, said Harden has a way of finding an opening no matter what a defender does.
Jimmy Butler on defending Harden: "You can try to deny him, but he’ll find a way to get it and make an incredible play for himself or for somebody else. That’s just who he is as a player. That’s why he’s fun to watch and everybody respects him around the league. "
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) March 9, 2019
All the proof of this is in Harden’s remarkable recent scoring streak. It’s been criticized by some, but this is a good rebuttal, and the fact that he still does it even when everyone knows it’s coming is indicative of how tough he is to slow down.
James Harden briefly exited the Houston Rockets’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday with a wrist injury.
Harden had driven to the basket and went up for a layup. He used his right hand to brace his fall and grabbed it immediately.
Harden then went into the locker room accompanied by the team’s trainer.
Harden hits the deck hard and is holding his right wrist pic.twitter.com/i1Ts0WIVKu
— 🇨🇦Spruce Moose (@DFSBBallGuy) March 9, 2019
Harden’s right wrist previously was bothering him, so this is not a new issue.
Harden had wrap on his right wrist on the road trip. He got up holding that wrist. He went to the back near the Rockets bench, rather than the other direction toward the locker room.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) March 9, 2019
Whatever issue Harden had was resolved quickly because he emerged from the locker room a few minutes later and re-entered the game. He finished the half with 20 points.
James Harden will be a game-time decision for Saturday’s primetime tilt against the Golden State Warriors.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Harden, who is dealing with a cervical strain, did not participate in the morning walkthrough and will be assessed just before the game tips off.
Source: James Harden's status will be a game-time decision after he did not participate in the Rockets' morning walkthrough. He's officially listed as questionable against the Warriors due to a cervical strain.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 23, 2019
Harden missing out against the Warriors would be disappointing, as things were pretty dramatic last time he faced them. The good news is that this doesn’t sound like a serious injury for the Rockets’ guard, and hopefully if he misses time, it’s only the one game.