Rob Mahoney of Bleacher Report on James Harden: “A defender’s only chance of stopping Harden outright is to get an early peg on his unusual rhythm; there’s no metronomic certainty, but there are still lilts to be measured as Harden swings his way from dribble to dribble, shuffling briskly on his path to the rim. If Harden is set to create from the perimeter on his own, there’s ample time to pin down that cadence and at least make an attempt to wall off his path or peg his eventual shot attempt. Yet the screen — while also bumping Harden’s defender off of his immediate path — also provides a timing reset; in the scramble to recover defensive positioning, Harden’s man is forced to surrender their count, and overextend as a means of preventing the easiest basket possible.”
Jared Dubin of HP in a 5-on-5 on his biggest playoff surprise: “James Harden’s fourth-quarter takeover (15 points, 3 assists) against the Mavericks in the Thunder’s series-clinching Game 4 win was marvelous. Neglected in crunch time for much of the season, Harden put on a show Saturday night and left no doubt that he’s ascended to the level of stardom along with teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.”
Here’s Metta World Peace on Conan, where is sort of blames Harden for the elbow.
Glenn Davis of Sportgrid on Westbrook shooting down that question: “As internet people, hearing common internet-person terms (possibly) make it into NBA press conferences delights us to no end. As for whether the guy asking the question was actually a troll, we don’t think so: we imagine he was genuinely fascinated by the prospect of whether or not James Harden may one day get a max deal, and perhaps overestimated the degree of interest in Harden’s contract at the moment. If the reporter’s looking for a silver lining in the exchange: hey, at least it wasn’t Gregg Popovich he asked.”
Andrew Sharp of SB Nation on Harden: “Last year’s playoffs were when the whole world realized that Harden was secretly the Oklahoma City Thunder’s best point guard in crunch time. This year is when everyone’s realizing he might be OKC’s most valuable player. Kevin Durant may be their best player, but Harden’s the piece of the OKC engine that makes everything else run smoothly. He’s deadly off the dribble, he finds open shooters off pick-and-roll, and he gives OKC a bridge between Russell Westbrook and Durant that makes them just about impossible to guard. When you look at what’s made the Thunder different this season, Harden’s the perfect example. Instead of Durant and two sidekicks (Westbrook and Harden), everyone’s gotten better, and the Thunder now have three guys who would be the best player on the floor for 90 percent of the NBA. Harden is that good now, and so are the Thunder. It’s not a coincidence.”
Dwyane Wade doesn’t sound all that committed to London, which means the door might be open for Harden.
Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld: “It is extremely likely that OKC’s second round opponent will be the Los Angeles Lakers, so there are plenty of tests ahead for the Thunder. Rest assured that Westbrook’s play will have everything to do with the Thunder’s success. It appears he is finished sitting on the sidelines. He has gained Scott Brooks’ trust and he’ll be out there with his team when the game’s on the line. It’s a scenario the Thunder like very much.”
John Rohde says maybe OKC could add another to Team USA: “A USA Basketball official said D’Antoni and McMillan are still in good standing to remain on staff, having been employed three of the last five years. No coaching changes for Team USA are anticipated because of the resounding success of Krzyzewski’s staff, which also includes Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and managing director Jerry Colangelo. However, what would be the harm inviting Brooks as an observer to Team USA’s training camp in July at Las Vegas? Brooks could share his insight on Durant, Westbrook and particularly Harden, whose stock continues to soar.”