James Harden Won’t Choke Again, Promises Mike D’Antoni
James Harden’s vanishing act late in his team’s Game 6 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night has been the subject of much debate.
With the Houston Rockets on the precipice of a win that would’ve secured them a second-round playoff berth, their best player opted to step back instead of stepping forward.
Watch this and tell me Harden wanted the ball to decide the game. You cannot give less effort to get the ball. 3 clips. (One is just front row seat to schroeder drive). Its Game 6 of a playoff game! pic.twitter.com/ELbNwcAFIZ
— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) September 1, 2020
What followed was Russell Westbrook, who had only played in two games so far this series, turning the ball over on a crucial play and ultimately sealing the loss for Houston.
Beyond just that one play, Harden was completely unimpressive late in the game. He missed his last three three-pointers and turned the ball over. For the game, he recorded five turnovers total.
On Tuesday, after a night of reflection, head coach Mike D’Antoni was asked whether he was worried about another potential Harden choke job in Game 7.
“Obviously, we have got to try to get him involved if we have to,” he told ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon.
“We just kept turning it over before he even had a chance to get him involved. There were turnovers that probably shouldn’t happen, so we’ll talk about it.
“I’ve talked to him, and he knows. He’ll be ready to go tomorrow. But it is definitely something that we want to get it to happen, without a doubt.”
Drugs are not cheap. https://t.co/lZhVrF0bbM
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 1, 2020
Harden going MIA when the lights shine the brightest is not exactly a new problem. Generally, it happens a little later in the playoffs, though.
Houston should beat Oklahoma City in Game 7. The Rockets have more talent and experience on the roster. But it never should have gone this far – and Harden deserves a decent amount of blame for the fact that it has.
All in all, the 31-year-old needs to show up on Wednesday night. And he needs to do it late in the game, when it really matters. If he doesn’t, chances are he won’t be able to use Westbrook as his fall guy the next time around.
Michael Kyaw, initially a PR Manager, built up a valuable network of connections in the sports world that he then utilized to become an influential sports business reporter. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, Fansided, ESPN and the Wall Street Journal.