Houston Rockets moment #9: Harden posts playoff career-high
After setting his own playoff record of 42 points in the same year of 2015 as in the previous moment, Harden then went on to set another playoff career-high of 45 points against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, this would not be to secure a 3-0 series lead, but kept the Rockets from being swept after suffering a 3-0 deficit to the Warriors.
On paper, it may look like this game is less impressive than the 42 point performance against the Mavericks despite the three extra points for the playoff career-high, due to the lower shooting percentages. However, the shooting splits were still elite at 59.1 percent from the field, 63.6 percent from deep, and 92.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Additionally, the largest reason this performance ranks above the previous one is that it came against a far tougher opponent and at a much later stage of the playoffs. Not to mention the fact that 45 is still to this day Harden’s career-high in playoff points.
The narrative matchup of James Harden vs Stephen Curry is also something to note for this moment. In 2015, Curry won the league MVP award, an award that many Houston fans still believe should have gone to Harden to this day.
Though Golden State’s sheer amount of talent was not something the Rockets were realistically capable of stacking up to, fans still savored seeing Harden thoroughly out-duel Curry in Game 4. Harden actually had quite a good series overall, which only contributed more to the now-classic debate about what he could have achieved if he was surrounded with the talent that Curry was.
Even at the beginnings of their dynasty, the Warriors were an extraordinarily difficult team to face. This game serves as quite an appropriate exemplification of Harden’s willingness and ability to take on the behemoth of a team as he showed many times throughout his tenure in Space City, and it remains one of his best playoff games to date.
Next: No. 8