Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
Following my last blog, where I praised Stephen Curry and the Warriors for allowing James Harden to take long, inefficient two-point shots, I wanted to go back and look closer at the shots that Harden actually did take in Game 1.
The video above is every shot that James Harden took in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against Curry and the Warriors.
I included 23 shots in the video. That is the 20 from the box score, plus the three missed shots that Harden was fouled on.
Of those 23 shots, one came in a transition situation (0/0 FG, 1 foul), nine came out of ball screen situations (4/9 FG), one was off a backdoor cut (1/1 FG), one was off a closeout advantage (1/1 FG), three were scramble/spot up situations (1/3 FG) and eight were the result of an isolation (4/6 FG, 2 fouls).
To break it down even further, I judged 18 of Harden’s shot attempts to have been contested, 3 to have been semi-contested and 2 uncontested. Harden was 8/15 with 3 fouls on contested attempts, 2/3 on semi-contested attempts and 1/2 on uncontested attempts.
In examining where Harden’s shots came from, 10 were around the rim (4/8 FG, 2 fouls), 4 were pull up jumpers taken below the free throw line (3/4 FG), 5 were long 2-pointers (3/4 FG, 1 foul) and just 4 were 3-pointers (1/4 FG).
Looking at the results, I think that Curry is correct. I think that Harden (a 44% shooter on the season) made an abnormally high percentage of difficult shots in game 1. He scored or went to the FT line on 11 of 18 contested shots and made or was fouled on 80% of long 2-point attempts, the least efficient shot in the game.
Certainly, we must take into account that Harden is known as a difficult shot taker and maker, but I do believe that over a series, Curry and the Warriors’ theory that those inefficient zones will not pay off for the Rockets, will prove to be correct.