In another chapter of the Beard versus the Greek Freak, Houston Rockets guard James Harden delivered a message to those trying to test his defense.
James Harden‘s name has been in the media often for the past couple of weeks, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with his on-court play for the Houston Rockets. Instead, attention has been focused on what he has been saying, especially in interviews.
In a recent story by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the topic of discussion was Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s comments about his team’s strategy in the fourth quarter of the NBA All-Star game. After that game, the Greek freak claimed the plan was to run the offense through whomever Harden was guarding because that person had a good chance to score.
A month later, Harden finally responded to Antetokounmpo’s “master plan.”
Teams can put a bullseye on James Harden in the Rockets’ switch-everything scheme. “Come try it and the s— won’t work,” Harden told ESPN. The stats say he’s right, and it’s an underrated reason small ball works for the Rockets. https://t.co/JVRAQY9bDd
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 5, 2020
As MacMahon’s column detailed, Harden is always consistently getting posted up yet is usually one of the best in terms of points allowed per possession, so it makes sense James would have such confidence as an interior defender.
This was yet another chapter in what has been an ongoing rivalry between the league’s last two MVP winners. In a way, this type of rivalry is what the NBA has been missing.
It’s not news to anyone how superior James Harden is on the offensive end. The one thing that flies under the radar, though is his improvement on defense. Harden’s defense used to literally be a meme, based on his clear laziness at times.
Now, though, there’s plenty of data to show that Harden’s lackadaisical defense is a thing of the past, so for Giannis to make such a comment goes to show he just finds ways to belittle the Beard.
Harden currently averages 7.4 assists per game, which is 9th in the league whereas Walker averages five assists per game, which is good enough for 37th in the league. So, what was the logic there?
Harden then fired back in an interview with Rachael Nichols. “Wish I could be 7 feet and dunk. Takes no skill,” Harden said.
All of this intensity between both superstars is what the NBA needs at the moment, especially being that these two are well established and well-known players. The next time both teams meet will definitely be must-see TV.
On March 25th, the Rockets will go to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks in the final game between the two this season. Will Giannis showcase that he does, in fact, have skill? Will Harden prove himself on the defensive end? Who will get the last laugh?
I know all of Rockets Nation has the 25th circled on their calendar this month, and it should be a very interesting showdown.