Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before, James Harden Completely Disappeared Down the Stretch of a Wildly Important Playoff Game
Fortunately, it wasn't a lack of offensive efficiency that haunted a Houston team whose last golden opportunity to hit the gimpy Goliath that is Golden State with a knockout punch was missed, 27x over, during the type of shooting slump that would make a mathematician spike his calculator...
Unfortunately, that's about the only excuse available for someone who has otherwise run out of them after annually picking the worst possible time to play passively in the playoffs. It's honestly as if James Harden is the NBA's ultimate masochist, because there's nothing else that can explain the criticism he actively invites on himself by exclusively being entirely inactive in legacy-defining moments. The most shamelessly ball-dominant scorer in NBA history has never met a shot he didn't want to take...unless that shot could help repair his postseason reputation.
I know that Chris Paul legitimately would have been more helpful last night had he been seated courtside in street clothes with an untimely hamstring injury. I also know that the fate of this season was never designed to be put in his hands. I know that James Harden was making "the right plays" in facilitating to other teammates that put up more than enough points to win after Kevin Durant exited a pivotal Game 5 when its outcome was very much up for grabs. I also know I have spent all season being defiantly scolded into believing that the Rockets play what many basketball purists consider to be "the wrong way" because it gives them the best chance to win.
If that last part has been at all true any one of the thousands of times I have heard it then, when they needed a crucial victory the most, all the Rockets' best bullets were left in the chamber by a superstar whose itchy trigger finger only manages to be stilled by something as simple as a double-team in situations that are of triple the importance. I'd imagine you'd be hard pressed to find another 8 and half minute stretch over the course of their entire careers during which Draymond Green outshot James Harden, so don't tell me the guy that was still being overly aggressive when he was half-blinded by bloodshot eyes earlier in the series didn't let the pressure cook his competitiveness.
It's too annual an occorrence for it to be a coincidence. Regardless of whether or not this particular one cost his team the game as much as their inability to get a stop (or grab a rebound the rare time they did), it's without fail that James Harden has one entirely inexplicable bout of offensive apathy in the most highly critical of moment per postseason. This one came when a hobbled KD had the Golden State Warriors there for the taking, and the MVP candidate whose primary value is in scoring the basketball was far too glad to give it up in suspiciously veering from a highly successful system of taking otherwise ill-advised shots. Situational circumstances certainly play a part, but this Rockets' team has either lived or died by 'The Beard' all season, so for him to be not much more than a casual observer as said season got put on life support is absolutely inexcusable, albeit all too predictable.