Given how much the Rockets crushed the Jazz in Matches 1 and 2, if James Harden was to break a playoff record in Game 3, the underlying assumption would be that he was tied to the notation. That was half true Saturday in Utah when Harden set the NBA playoff record for the most number of missed unbranded shots, ranging from 0 to 15 on the field to start the match .
Harden's inability to score was a noticeable trend from the start. He did not receive as many calls as he used to receive, so his conduct to the edge was often a failure. The weird defensive strategy of the Jazz is even more frustrating as Utah players assigned to last year's most valuable player stood behind him to try to keep the back down when he passed the half of the field – so this move was technically an option. This defense was by no means the only reason for all its failures, but when it came to the defensive game plan at stake during the drought that marked the opponent on the field, it was easy for a team to extract the confidence. This confidence has even led to remarkable stops for a player who has made officials whistle like a Pavlovian response on any occasion. sudden movement from him.
It's not like Harden was unable to affect the game at all. Even though he was missing shots, his mere presence forced the Jazz to always consider him a threat. Harden also proved his passing abilities during this drought and obtained many aids for teammates who managed the shots he could not. It also helped them to have a second capable leader in Chris Paul.
However, the biggest help the Rockets have in trying to make up for Harden's lack of points on the pitch comes from the Jazz themselves. It's not uncommon for a star to be cold in the playoffs, but when that cold star is nominated for the title of most valuable player, or even first place in the award, his team's chances of winning are generally very thin. The caveat, of course, is that the other team must capitalize on this loss. The Jazz was simply unable to do it. The top scorer in the league having been cleared in the field, the Jazz responded with 65.8% success on the line and 29.3% against three. It's never a good sign when a team can not use the friendly silence of local fans to strike more free throws.
It was clear that the Jazz had also become aware of this problem and had started to make more mental mistakes because of it. An already sloppy attack became even more sloppy, everything rushed and defense communication stopped almost completely. This latest issue made its appearance when Utah allowed the first bucket of the Harden game to be an easy dive into a clear lane.
The game could have been called then and there. Harden finally marked the end of all the gifts that the Jazz had received from the gods of basketball. Of course, there were exciting back-and-forth moments in the game, and the game still resulted in the final possession – Donovan Mitchell could have sent things in overtime, but lack the wide open three– but as soon as this seal was broken, there was little doubt as to how things would end. The Rockets would win the game 104-101, and Harden's stats line would be 22 points on a 3-for-20 shot (2 of 13, 3PT, 14 of 16), 10 assists and six interceptions.
As if things were not hard enough for Utah, Harden praised the injury of the loss suffered in his interview with Cassidy Hubbarth (ESPN) in the post-game.
If a player is able to act convincingly when it is said that he has had one of the worst shooting nights in NBA history, it says a lot about the efforts of the opposing team to attempt to contain it. Cancel the fourth match at this stage.