The Rockets are somehow a quiet 57-14, which is a ridiculous sentence to write. But the Warriors run has lent Golden State an air of successful playoff inevitability, plus they’re 53-18, so it’s not like they’re having a down year.
But the Rockets are really good, and if there’s any justice we’ll get a Houston-Golden State showdown in the Western Conference finals. If we do, we might see James Harden try to attack Steph Curry repeatedly; last night’s Rockets win in Portland serves as a blueprint for what the Rockets could look to do in the postseason. The Blazers are currently having a great year themselves, sitting third in the west, and they played Houston tough last night, losing 115-111 in a fun game.
They had no answer for likely MVP James Harden last night, though. Harden went for 42 points on just 25 shots, adding six boards and seven assists. Did he have four turnovers? Yes! Was he somehow -5 in 33 minutes? Yes, he was, but that’s deceptive and context-dependent. But moreover, watch this video of Harden orchestrating his preferred matchup: one-on-one with Dame Lillard.
Thanks to Devin Williams (@DevInTheLab) for the supercut:
Harden 100 percent wanted the fade wit Dame tonight. If you look close, he was trying to get them to switch on the screens…. pic.twitter.com/iFMWKuX8Ev
— IN THE LAB (@DevInTheLab) March 21, 2018
That’s basketball porn. Harden sets up who he wants, and exploits the matchup by attacking the basket just about every single time. And that’s the key to the isolation, in this case; he’s not pounding it into the ground and taking off-balance jumpers. (Well, aside from that one bomb at the end.) Harden is getting layups out of those matchups.
And given that Curry is the least capable defender in the regular Warriors rotation, and that Golden State also loves to switch screens, it’s not unreasonable to think Houston will look to set up Curry the same way. Of course, there’s plenty of time to adjust to that potential plan, but watching Harden go at Steph is just another reason we really need to see this series in a few months.
Hopefully we’re that lucky.