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Houston Rockets: James Harden is getting fewer free throws, but still dominating

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 17: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz during Game Two of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 17: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz during Game Two of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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So far in this opening round series against the Jazz, the MVP of the league is not getting the same amount of foul calls as he has all season. Still, though, he and the Houston Rockets are dominating.

The Houston Rockets are up 2-0 on the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs after another blowout victory last night. Houston is dominating in every facet of the game and it just looks like a big mismatch out there in both wins.

One interesting development has been the change of officiating in the playoffs so far in these two games. Probably the biggest thing the haters have to say about James Harden is that he shoots a ton of free throws. We can talk all day about how he truly does earn them, but that’s a topic for another article.

In this series, Harden has been very limited in his trips to the line. In fact, he’s only taken 8 free throws, below his season average, in both games combined.

James Harden has attempted just 8 free throws in the first two games of the series combined.

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) April 18, 2019

We know playoff officiating tightens up a bit, but the Beard has still been able to normally get his points at the line in the past. Though it’s been two games only, of course, it seems to be a bit different this year.

Jazz defensive strategy

Part of the reason this may be happening is due to the defensive strategy the Jazz have for the series. Forcing Harden off the 3-point line (kinda) and to his right hand is causing him to pass it to open shooters/big men or shoot a floater more often.

These kinds of results from plays typically have fewer fouls associated with them, thus fewer free throw opportunities. While he’s definitely been deserving of foul calls he hasn’t received, it also hasn’t just been bad officiating as to why he isn’t drawing the whistle.

It hasn’t mattered at all

This is the part that probably angers the haters, though: James Harden is still dominating the games and is a huge part of why the Rockets have won both games against the Jazz by an average of 26 points.

Here is his insane stat line through two games: 30.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 10 assists per game. Not only is he putting up those great numbers, but he’s also doing so shooting 44% from the field and an awesome 43.5% from downtown. He’s hitting his step backs (besides the one that made Rubio fall) and has been very efficient.

Next. Rockets win Game 2 with tough defensive play

The Beard has quieted the critics for now. Let’s hope he can continue to dominate and have a historical playoff run, leading the Rockets to a championship.

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