How Harden fares in the playoffs
The answer to that question is no. His legacy is already tainted and a loss in this series will just further prove what we’ve witnessed during past playoff trips: he can’t lead a team to a title. The only way for Harden to appear out of the shadows of his playoff failures is to win. Winning is the ultimate anecdote, but history isn’t on his side.
After Game 1 of the playoffs begin next week, Harden will have spearheaded the Rockets to eight consecutive playoff appearances. Harden has averaged to 22.9 points per game during his postseason career, which includes 10 trips of postseason play.
His average is currently ninth among active players in the NBA. The order is below:
- Kevin Durant-29.1 points
- LeBron James-28.9 points
- Stephen Curry-26.5 points
- Russell Westbrook-25.4 points
- Damian Lillard-24.8 points
- Carmelo Anthony-24.5 points
- Kyrie Irving-23.5 points
- Giannis Antetokounmpo-23 points
In the previous seven postseasons, Houston has faced the Golden State Warriors four times, the Utah Jazz two times, the LA Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks.
With all those series’ combined, Harden scored a total of 584 points (26.6 points per game) on 40 percent shooting from the floor, including 32 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He also shot 85 percent from the free-throw line and played a healthy serving of 808 minutes.
Despite those numbers, Harden and the Rockets only managed to get to the Western Conference Finals once during the 2017-18 season versus the Golden State Warriors. Harden self-destructed during the series after Chris Paul’s injury, as his decision to play ‘iso ball’ combined with the Rockets’ heavy intake of missed 3-pointers sent the Rockets to their deathbed.
Next: Why Harden needs to win a title