So much of James Harden’s game is predicated on fooling the referees into giving him calls.
In Game 1 against the Warriors on Sunday night, after Kevin Durant’s turnover gave the Rockets the ball back with seconds left and a chance to tie the game at 103, Harden broke out one of his signature ref traps: the base-stealing slide after launching a stepback. It missed and the Rockets lost, 104-100.
It looked like the right non-call in real time, and the L2M confirmed that.
Harden can get away with that in the regular season. But in the playoffs, when refs zero in on a player’s arsenal of moves -- and we’d bet Harden is the most studied -- those little wrinkles, like sliding into second base after shooting a 3-pointer, are much less likely to work, though that didn’t stop Harden from complaining like Sally in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special after the game. He finished with 35 points on 9-of-28 shooting.
This doesn't mean this series is over, of course. Don’t listen to Richard Jefferson. But here’s some bad news for the Rockets: Kevin Durant scored 35 points in Game 1, and is now averaging 40.2 points on 54.5 percent shooting over his last five games.
[READ: Warriors start Hamptons Five, showing urgency in win over Rockets]
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