NBA Finals 2012: James Harden Must Be Bigger Factor for OKC Thunder
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have handled their business for the Oklahoma City Thunder thus far in the NBA Finals. However, if the Thunder are to beat the Miami Heat, they will need James Harden to pick up his game.
Harden only gave the Thunder nine points on a miserable 2-of-10 shooting night from the field in 34 minutes, including an 0-of-4 effort beyond the arc.
This goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway—that offensive output is unacceptable.
It's his second stinker in three NBA Finals games. In Game 1, he only managed five points on 2-of-6 shooting in just 22 minutes of play.
To put these two games into perspective, Harden hadn't been held to single-digit points once in the playoffs until the finals and was only held to single-digit points four times in the regular season.
Now he's done it twice in a three-game stretch. What gives?
It could be the pressure of the NBA Finals. We saw what it did to LeBron James and the Heat last year, after all.
It could be the defensive effort he has to bring at the other end, matching up against James and Dwyane Wade. Having to keep those two in check—and exerting a lot of energy in the process—could be taking him out of his offensive flow.
Why is Harden struggling in the NBA Finals?
It could just be that the Heat have simply nailed the scouting report on Harden and are doing an excellent job of taking away what he wants to do on the offensive end.
Everyone knows that Harden is the third option on this Oklahoma City team behind Durant and Westbrook. What makes him so effective is his ability to kill teams that focus too much energy on the two superstars and give Harden free rein to find his shot.
The Thunder don't need Harden to give them 20 points a night, but they certainly need him to do far better than the 14 combined points he contributed in the first and third games of this series.
If he doesn't start bringing more to the table, I simply don't see the Thunder beating the Heat.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets have more style than a Russell Westbrook press conference.
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