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NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks – Lineup Preview and Analysis

By Lee Golden
5 of 8

Nov 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots against Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden: 81 Games, 27.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 7 APG, 1.9 STLS, 44% FG, 86.8% FT, 37.5% 3PT

Monta Ellis: 80 Games, 18.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.9 STLS, 44.5% FG, 75.2% FT, 28.5% 3PT

Mr. MVB. The “B” can stand for Beard, Buckets or Bully if you ask me. The first two are self explanatory as Harden can thread through any defense and score at will while styling a rather exclusive beard. “Bully” on the other hand is added to the mix simply because of his 824 free throws attempted (Westbrook second highest with 654). Last year, Harden was criticized for his defensive deficiency and this year he’s given better effort. That’s not to say that he’s a good defender now but at least he’s improved.

After a pair of first round exits in the previous two years, I’m sure Monta is looking to finally extend his season into May. Ellis is an exceptional slasher, a clutch performer, a great mid-range scorer and if hot, almost impossible to stop. His three point shooting is spotty but again, if he’s making them it could be a long night for the Rockets.

What To Expect

Given Harden’s labile defensive efforts, Monta may be able to score hand-in-hand with Harden if given the opportunity. However, he’s not needed to do so. Ellis’ primary job is to accelerate their offense and utilize other scoring options. Harden will trump Ellis in scoring each game in result to his scarce scoring alternatives. Neither one will be able to contain the other single handedly. They’ll both act as catalysts for their teams (more so Harden) and expect each of them to go on scoring tears during some point of their combat.

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