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Tag Archives: James Harden

This One Deserved Its Own Post

Everybody has been waiting for this James Harden moment.  The moment when he stopped playing so passive, when he stopped trying to work the little finger-rolls, when he stopped taking it to the rim looking for the foul from the contact that inevitably comes from ALL NBA games, and started looking to attack people.

Harden is a finesse guy.  He’s got smooth, silky moves that look for seams rather than the Westbrook method, which is more like Tabasco sauce to Harden’s cool ranch dressing.  We didn’t know he had it in him.

Let’s take a look:

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Game 23 Results: Hi KD, I Didn’t See You Come In

Final score: Thunder 111, Timberwolves 103

Record: 15-8

Division: 5-1

Stat Leaders

Points: Durant with 30, Beasley with 26

Rebounds: Kevin Love with 21, Durant with 11

Assists: Luke Ridnour with 9, Westbrook with 8, Durant with 6

Wow, I think I’m going to need some antacid medicine after that one.

For the first time this year (I think) I was actively getting angry at this team that I am devoting myself to.  It was a strange feeling, because I have not felt an emotional connection to an NBA team for a long time (with the exception of the Lakers; still hate them through and through).  Through two and a half quarters, I felt like I was subtly but openly despising what I was watching.  One of these teams has a record of 5-16?  You’d be forgiven if you guessed it was the team in blue.

How did I get there?

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12/8 Daily Links

Rebound game tonight against the Wolves.  Prepare yourself by reading everything that I’ve posted here. It leads to a more fulfilling existence.  At least I’m banking on it, anyway.

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • I like to see good guys succeed.  By all accounts, James Harden is a good guy.
  • Interesting prognosis for Mr. Green.  I could totally see the Knicks chasing him in the off-season, because that is what the Knicks do.  However, I think it’s more interesting from a macro view of how the league values him.  Carmelo Anthony is currently the big fish that playoff teams are going to chase.  He will demand max dollars.  However, if a team can’t get him (Chicago?), could Green become a valuable but more affordable alternative?  ‘Melo will be looking for a new contract in 2011, and it will likely (a priori) be in that $16-$18 million per year range for max years.  In lieu of ‘Melo though, would it be more prudent to chase a player like Green, who will probably get around half that amount but provide around 80% of the same offense?  That could be the sweet spot for the Jeff Green sweepstakes.

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New Podcast over at Daily Thunder

TGR #28: James Harden’s Coming Out Party

Give it a listen.

And to answer their question – Maynor.

Game 13 Results: Do Not Fear the Deer

Final Score: Thunder 82, Bucks 81

Record: 9-4

Stat Leaders

Points: James Harden with 23, Brandon Jennings with 25

Rebounds: James Harden with 9

Assists: Westbrook with 6, Harden with 4

My thoughts will be brief do to lack of time, post-game.

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Bill Simmons on the Western Conference

Bill Simmons has a new column up today that takes a look at the Western Conference, and ranks the teams from worst to first.

Part I

Part II

It is best to read the entire two-parter, but it’s good to note that he currently sees the Thunder as the #6 seed in the west, which if things shake out according to his predictions would likely pit them against the Hornets or Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.  Prognostication is fun!

Here are a few choice quotes:

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John Hollinger 11/18 Chat Excerpt

Jeremy (Portland)

Do the Thunder need to seriously think about moving Harden & Green for a better/more consistent player?

ESPN John Hollinger:

What are they gonna get for those two? I’d love to see them start Ibaka at the 5 and keep Green at the 4 — that’s a small team but it’s the only way they have enough floor spacing. As for Harden, he’s been a total mess this year. I think you have to see if he can get it turned around, because right now they won’t be able to get fair value for him.

Read the complete transcript here.

Game 8 Preview: Trailblazers at the Thunder

Game time tip off: 9:30PM EST

Key Players

  • Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook, who both totaled 28 points, 11 rebounds in game 1.
  • Brandon Roy – 19 points in 47 minutes.
  • Marcus Camby – 12 rebounds in game 1.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge – 22 points last game.

Game preview:

In the first matchup between these two teams, the Thunder had once again fallen behind early, looking completely disinterested.  However, they battled back, which I think presented an early season turnaround as to how they expected themselves to perform against the better teams in the league.  Granted, the Thunder struggled against the Celtics.  But in each game, they battled.  Maintaining a competitive nature throughout a game will not always result in wins against elite teams, but against the 2nd and 3rd tier teams, it is a good way to insure a winning record.

I believe there will be two keys to tonight’s game, one controllable, the other not:

  1. Brandon Roy’s knee.
    Roy clocked in 47 minutes during the Blazers’ loss in their first matchup.  Since then, in a loss to the Lakers and a win against the Pistons, he logged 31 and 21 minutes, respectively.  No team seems to be as collectively snake-bitten by the injury monster like the Blazers.   If Roy can’t go tonight or is ineffective, the Blazers will have a difficult time matching up with the Thunder’s offensive output.
  2. Defensive rebounding.
    I am a broken record here, but when a struggling team comes to town, you have to limit their offensive rebounding opportunities.  Second chance points can ruin otherwise good play.  The Blazers have one of the best rebounders in the game in Marcus Camby, and he will likely be matched up against Krstic and Ibaka.  Camby does not present much challenge offensively, so either guy should be able to check him.  Where the challenge comes from though is in keeping him off the boards.  the Blazers have active bodies in Aldridge, Batum, and Fernandez who can capitalize on those second chance points.

I am looking forward to seeing if the Thunder can maintain their early-game focus as they did against the Sixers.  The Sixers win was an imperfect game, but offered good things on which the Thunder can build.

Westbrook will be matched up against the veteran Andre Miller, who has always had a place on the league both for his strong point play as well as his strong afro.  Miller won’t want to play at the breakneck pace that Holiday did on Wednesday, so hopefully it will be a little bit easier for Westbrook to play at a quick but not fast speed.  He had initiated good ball movement last game, and we will look for that to continue.  Remember, he doesn’t need a gaudy stat line to prove that he distributed the ball.  Good passing begets good passing.  Let’s see everyone get into the vibe.

Last notes:

  • It was great to see Sefolosha get some quality contribution against the Sixers.  His offense can be sporadic, but one thing he can always do is play good defense.  In the last game he tallied three steals in his time on the court.  He could absolutely be a defensive stopper type, given his length and quickness.
  • Durant will likely see a rotation of Camby, Batum, and Aldridge thrown at him to limit his touches.  This could present opportunity for Ibaka on the inside.  It would be great to see Durant get some high-low post play going on with Ibaka and Aldrich.  Anything that puts Durant in a scoring position with options is a play worth repeating until it is stopped.
  • I’m still pushing for James Harden to get into the starting lineup to see how he handles himself.  Hopefully he can avoid the fouls this time out and get into a bit better flow.  Regardless, his outside shot is not yet there; I’d like to see him get into the paint a bit more and see how the defense responds.

Prediction: Thunder by 4

Bill Simmons’ Take

On 11/8 The SportsGuy Bill Simmons did his weekly podcast.  He devoted a solid 10 minutes to discussion on The Thunder.   He talked at length what he thinks is the major Achilles heel to the Thunder’s championship build.

The B.S. Report

the Thunder talk starts in around 57:30.  I’ve excerpted Simmons’ comments and edited them for readability.

____________________________________________

This is a stat that I think should be a stat…I’ve personally watched games where [the Thunder have] fallen behind by 20 points…it happened against the Celtics last night…it happened in the Clipper game…it happened the night before when they lost to Utah…and in that Portland game I think they were down like 15, 16…

When you fall behind by 15 or more in a basketball game, and it’s happening again and again, I don’t care if you come back or not, that’s the sign of a real issue.  Because if you’re a really good team, you should be doing what the Lakers do, and just taking care of business every night.  You shouldn’t be falling behind by 15, 20.

I think it goes deeper than [interior problems].  I think they had a lot of expectations, and it doesn’t seem to me, and I saw them in person on Wednesday (Clippers loss), it doesn’t seem like they’re playing with the same [happy go lucky]. Durant’s got the bulls-eye on him now, and he has a look on his face like he knows it.  And I thought Westbrook, I thought the experience he got in the World Championships would be awesome for him, and it actually kind of gave him a little too much confidence.  And now it almost seems like those two guys…you know, last year it was clear – Durant’s our guy…Now it’s like, Westbrook’s like, “you know what? I’m gonna do this.”

… I don’t know, it just seems like they’re a little off.  I think it’s fixable.

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