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Harden is a great scorer, but sometimes he can be a ball hog.
James Harden is an elite scorer. He has the outside range and can draw fouls in the paint better than anyone in the business. Sometimes, however, he holds onto the ball too much.
The Rockets like to play an uptempo style of offense with Dwight Howard inside surrounded by three-point shooters. Houston, averaging the third most points per game in the league, is at its best when the ball is moving.
Often times, Howard gets the ball in the post. There are few guys in the NBA who can guard him one-on-one, so he typically draws the double-team. Once the second defender comes, he is a good passer out of the double-team, and the Rockets can find the open shooter by making the extra passes.
The offense also runs smoothly when Howard sets pick-and-rolls with either Harden or Chandler Parsons. Both of them are capable of dissecting the defense by penetrating the lane off the pick, and many times the result is an alley-oop to Howard off the roll or Terrence Jones off the backdoor cut.
The Rockets have plenty of lethal offensive weapons, which is why it's no coincidence that they can score with the best of them. However, on some nights, the flow isn't there, and everything bottoms out.
On nights when they play a team that can defend Howard one-on-one in the post, they struggle offensively, especially when Harden has an off night. If Howard isn't playing well in the post, they have to stick with the pick-and-rolls in the offensive set.
If they don't, they can't score.
Way too frequently, Harden feels like he has to do all the scoring, and it gets ugly. The Beard likes to isolate himself in a one-on-one matchup, which makes the offense stagnant. Players are standing still, and the ball moves hardly at all. He works down the shot clock and then forces up a tough shot or passes it off last second to make someone else take an ill-advised shot.
Once the playoffs roll around, the tempo becomes much slower. The Rockets won't be able to consistently get out in transition, and they will have to play efficiently in the half-court sets. Harden will have to try to minimize his isolations, especially if the Rockets are matched up against the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers, who can defend Howard down low.