We all know by now that OKC Thunder guard James Harden is an absolute beast! If you didn’t know, he just proved it to you during the Western Conference Finals as he carved up the San Antonio Spurs at will. Harden who has always been a fan favorite in OKC became a household name nationally with his dynamic play against the Spurs averaging 18.5ppg 5.5rpg and 3.7apg while shooting 49% from the field and 60% from the 3. It wasn’t just the numbers he was putting up that was so impressive it was the array of ways he got buckets and created plays for his teammates; splitting double teams, hitting defenders with nasty euro-steps, lay-ups in traffic, fall away 3 pointers, the occasional tomahawk slam, and most importantly clutch dagger shots to ultimately put the Spurs away.
All of that being said, that level of play from Harden feels like forever ago, because his play during these Finals has just been sad to say the least. He hasn’t showed up yet to play in the Finals,(outside of the first half of game 2) he is averaging a mere 10.8ppg on 13-37 from the field for 35.1% and just 4-14 from the 3 for 28.5%. He doesn’t seem confident and he seems to be forcing the issue. Harden is missing wide open jumpers and break away lay-ups. He keeps trying to split the double team every single time on the pick and roll to no avail, and when he does get in the lane he does the exact same euro-step time and time again. We find ourselves yelling at the tv like, “this is the NBA Finals bruh, you can’t do the exact same move over and over again and expect it to keep working.” Harden is the heart and soul of the Thunder, they go as he goes. If Harden plays well the Thunder win and when he doesn’t play well the Thunder struggle case in point the 3-1 series deficit they face now. Harden has to find a way to get going, he has to get out in transition, keep attacking the basket and most importantly he has to get to the foul line. Harden has shot and made the 5th most free throws of anyone during this years playoffs. He just needs to see the ball go in the basket a couple times to get his confidence back. We can’t just kill Harden for his poor play, he has been playing hard and trying to do other things to help his team win like rebounding (he grabbed 10 boards in game 4) and play D as he has spent extended minutes guarding Lebron James.
However, it doesn’t help that Harden injured his hand during the 104-98 game 4 loss where he had just 8 points on 2-10 shooting, going 1-5 from the 3 with 4 turnovers and committing 5 fouls. Harden did practice some on Wednesday sitting out portions to get treatment on his hand, but will play in game 5 tonight. Bottom line Harden has to get his self going one way or another. If the Thunder are going to have any chance of coming back in this series they are going to need the real James Harden to please show up! Check out the videos below of Harden and the NBATV crew talking about his NBA Finals struggles and one of the James Harden we have come to know and love and let us know what you think.