Harmless Game 3 Loss Will Be The Motivation Harden Needs To Lock In

    James Harden‘s strange relationship with the NBA playoffs has continued in this opening round Western Conference matchup with the overmatched Timberwolves. This was supposed to be the season that Harden shakes his playoff demons of the past, wins his MVP award and completes the formidable journey of rising to NBA champion and top of the superstar food chain after playing the third leg to KD and Westbrook in old OKC. 

    Despite his squad being up 2-1 in the series, questions are swirling about Hardens sudden ineffectiveness. Just a few weeks ago he was breaking ankles, embarrassing cats and going viral with regularity. Now he’s answering questions about poor long range shooting.  

    Bob Slovak on Twitter

    Rockets feeling confident despite poor long range shooting in GM1. @CapelaClint had @JHarden13 fired up with his play. @NBA @abc13houston https://t.co/iKpPSUgQEI

    Sporting News NBA on Twitter

    NBA playoffs 2018: James Harden not concerned with poor shooting in Game 2 win https://t.co/hXnuxPtDO9

    Hardens deadly J and an array of offensive moves that had people insanely calling him the greatest offensive weapon in NBA history (Kobe please cover your ears) was supposed to be money every night in these playoffs. Minnesota isnt any grand opponent, but they have some impressive young talent and if you slip against Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Big KAT and Co, you could catch an L. 

    Mike D’Antoni says the team has lost its rhythm after losing Game 3 

    The Rockets havent really been challenged in a very long time, so the harmless Game 3 loss might be just the boost Houston needs to kick back into gear. Harden told reporters at todays press conference on NBA TV:  Watched the film, saw things that we just allowed to happen too easily and won’t let it happen again.” 

    Harden didnt address his own futile offensive output, but he did say that hes going to keep playing hard and shots are going to fall, shots are going to be missed. 

    James Harden 2-18 Shooting – Lowlights – Timberwolves vs Rockets – Game 2 | 2018 NBA Playoffs

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    Thats pretty much been Hardens philosophy all season as he took the second most field goal attempts in the league behind  Russell Westbrook. Thats the optimistic way to look at it, especially when your team is up in the series and Chris Paul has been picking up the slack, but we saw this with Harden in last years disastrous playoff finale and his 41 combined points in Games 2 and 3 after scoring 44 in Game 1 is indicative of past playoff shortcomings after monster regular seasons. Harden will rebound, but as Houston advances in the 2018 NBA playoffs his playoff failure will be in the back of everyone’s mind and the main reason why some hoops heads dont think he should be MVP of the league. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.