It was clear from the beginning of game 1 that the Portland Trail Blazers game plan was to attack James Harden and make him work. From the first possession of this series, they posted up Harden on the block resulting in an easy post layup. For the Houston Rockets to be successful this post season, James Harden has to find a way to play better defense.
Last week a youtube user made a compilation of plays showing how Harden’s defense is just simply atrocious. The eleven minute video of Harden’s defensive “lowlights” already has over 500k views.
James is undoubtably one of the best shooting guards in the NBA today. He finished the regular season averaging 25.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.7 rebounds a game. Harden has the ability to create his own shot and when he’s in the zone, he is unstoppable.
With all of Harden’s offensive firepower, it seemed as if the Trail Blazers cracked to code against the Rockets. In a post game interview with Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts he stated the obvious. “We definitely wanted to make James work defensively and get him moving around to maybe slow down his offensive attack.”
That formula seemed to work because the Trail Blazers had there way with him on offense and defensively they held Harden to a 7 point first half. Although James finished the game with 27 points he was 8-28 from the field. “I’ve got to play better,” Harden told reporters after the game. “I didn’t shoot the ball well...I’ve got to shake it off, but it will be better in Game 2.”
He has to do more than that because I’m pretty sure the game plan will be the same as game one. They will attack James Harden and make him play defense. This will be what all teams do from here going forward if the Rockets make it out of the first round.
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest ever, however he used to get 1st team defense as well. For James Harden to step up into that elite class of shooting guards he has to step his game up defensively.