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Numbers show playoff officiating has hampered James Harden, Rockets

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

James Harden is a master at getting to the free throw line, but he’ll need to get the same calls in the playoffs for the Houston Rockets to succeed.

Since James Harden‘s arrival in 2012, the Houston Rockets have routinely been a contender to reach the NBA Finals. Season after season, his elite offense has pushed the Rockets up the standings in the regular season only to see them struggle to maintain their production in the postseason.

However, it’s not Harden’s play that is muted in the postseason but rather the chirp of the whistle. While there are many unseen factors in play as the unpredictable season resumes, the Rockets’ chances of reaching the Finals will largely come down to how Harden is refereed.

James Harden is the preeminent offensive talent in the NBA and a high-usage dynamo that can pick apart a defense at will. Harden cooks, and his secret sauce is his ability to generate free throws. Throughout Harden’s career, he has been mostly average from the field in terms of efficiency but has always been great at getting to the free-throw line and hitting freebies.

Harden’s Career Adjusted Shooting (100 is League Average)

FG+   2P+   3P+   FT+   FT rate+

 97    102    102    113    195

Almost all great scorers use the charity stripe to great effect, but James Harden is a Four-Star General in the Salvation Army. Every night, Harden and the Rockets are banking on his 10 points from the line to prop up the league’s second-best offense in terms of points per game (118.1).

Next: Diving Deeper into the Numbers

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