The Epic Meltdown Of James Harden & How He Ruined OKC’s Championship Hopes
All the talk about the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA Finals clash has mostly surrounded LeBron James’ redemption, Russell Westbrook’s “all or nothing” approach, Kevin Durant’s Whodini act, Dwyane Wade’s physical struggles and the inconsistency of the referees. While there has been some talk about James Harden, the man with the killer beard has melted under the bright lights and can be held largely responsible for the 3-1 hole that the Thunder find themselves in.
The collapse of James Harden is mind boggling beyond comprehension. If you thought LeBron James fell off in last year’s NBA Finals, then wait until you get a load of the freefall that James Harden has had that has truly cost his team a shot at the championship.
Okay, so, as you know, the 2011-12 6th Man of the Year averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 49% from the field and 39% from behind the arc during the regular season. Check out his line from this year’s NBA Finals:
10.8 points, 5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 43% from the field and 28% from behind the arc.
It’s pitiful that Harden is playing this poorly. Let’s take it a step further, shall we?
In the four games against the Miami Heat, Harden has only scored in double digits one time (5, 21, 9, 8). Not once this season has Harden gone back to back games scoring under 10 points. Not a single time. You want to know the last time Harden scored in single digits 3 out of 4 games? Go back to January 2011 when Harden scored 5, 13, 8 & 5. This was back when Harden was barely averaging 25 minutes a game and was still looking to prove himself in the league.
He was a non-factor when the Thunder won game one and a crippler in games 3 & 4. Forget the numbers, if you watch the games you’ll see Harden blowing layups, bricking wide open three pointers, a horrible shot selection and a player who is being chewed up and spit out by the enormity of the situation. It’s totally unacceptable for a player of his stature to be outplayed by an opponent who only averaged 4.8 points in 23 minutes during the regular season. That person is Shane Battier.
While Harden has collapsed, Battier has stepped up to the plate.
The 10-year veteran is averaging 11.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and .3 assists while shooting 65% from the field and 63% from the 3-point arc. This is coming from a guy who hadn’t scored in double figures in back to back games since the last two games of the 2011 season.
And this is the reason why OKC is on the verge of elimination.
While the history books will point at LeBron James’ sudden maturation (and rightfully so), those who really pay attention will point at James Harden’s limp play as the culprit behind the Thunder’s woes.