While watching the Game 5 match-up between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, I quickly grew empathy for James Harden. There wasn’t much in his favor last night as he seemed to be the only person to show up for his team. Just when you thought the Rockets could take advantage of the Warriors playing without Steph Curry, they played much like they’ve played all season; heartless and inconsistent.
Coming into this game, Jason Terry guaranteed a win. I didn’t think it was smart but I figured it would motivate his teammates—well I was wrong. At least if it didn’t motivate the rest of the Rockets, maybe it would get Terry going since he made the statement—nope, that didn’t happen either. Jason Terry claimed a win and then went out and played 22 minutes and shot 0-7 from the field to get a fat zero in the scoring column; that just can’t happen! But it was a similar night for most of the Houston Rockets. The only other player not named James Harden in double figures was Michael Beasley who had 11 points. Harden started off the game 6-7 for 14 points while the rest of his team went 0-16. He ended the first half with 25 points while the rest of his team only scored 8 points. It was more like James Harden vs. the Golden State Warriors, literally a one-man show going up against a machine. He did all he could but his team was stuck in no-man’s land, ready to go on vacation.
This type of effort and inconsistency, I believe stems from how the team was ran, starting with the firing of Kevin McHale a few games into the season. After Game 5, James Harden hinted at the up and downs of the season contributing to their horrible play:
“The season, from the beginning, wasn’t going our way. Just had too many distractions, “ Harden said. “It’s just been like a bumpy road this entire season.”
This team has seen different coaches and multiple lineups and players in and out of their locker room and that inconsistency has relayed over to their play on the court. J.B. Bickerstaff hasn’t gotten these players playing to their full potential. A big part of their problem is their offense. We’re in a league where the top dogs, such as the Spurs and Warriors are ruling the NBA due to their defense and their fluent offense. The Rockets on the other hand, are a one trick pony where they put the ball in Harden’s hand and just sit around and watch. That style of play doesn’t really work in the league anymore because it’s so easy to stop. Harden is 2nd in usage behind DeMarcus Cousins and he’s also in the top 15 in touches and time of possession which is a big reason why he lead the league this year in turnovers with 374. Yeah that style may get you regular season wins and get you to the playoffs but it won’t grant you much success in a 7-game series against a great defensive team.
It’s time for a complete face lift in Houston, starting with getting a new coach that can get these guys playing consistently because they do have talent and also, finding a replacement for Dwight Howard because he checked out a long time ago. Offensively, James Harden fought well and I give him major props for that but it was a poor effort and performance by the rest of his teammates and that just can’t happen in the NBA Playoffs.