James Harden put up 22 points Wednesday night against the Nuggets, and while it was just "one game" it doesn't get any easier.
Friday night, the defending champs are in town, and while they are known for their fast-paced, high-octane offense, they can also shut people down.
In the playoffs last season with the Warriors, Harden averaged 28.4 points per game on 46% percent shooting. That is not too shabby, but he also mixed in two games where he scored less than 20 points and had less than 20 percent shooting.
The Warriors defensively can throw some serious length at Harden with Klay Thompson (6'7), Draymond Green (6'7), Andre Iguodala (6'6) and on and on.
"James is tough," Green said of defending Harden "he's a guy who gets to the free throw line, can shoot the basketball, great player."
Keeping Harden from the rim and the foul line is a goal every team has, but like Green said, it's tough.
"You got to stay between him and the rim," Green said "when he drives in the paint, get your hands up, he's going to look for the foul."
But reaching and not fouling Harden is one of the hardest things to do, the MVP runner-up is the master at drawing contact. Harden's ability to draw contact reminds me a lot of a quote from Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel — who is equally as good at making his pitches move — about movement on his fastball.
"My job is to make a pitch look like a juicy steak, then as they swing it falls off the plate."
Harden, like Keuchel, puts the basketball out there and it looks so juicy you just have to grab the ball. Instead, it's a foul. Green has fallen for this many times, and will no doubt keep falling for it just like everyone else.
"It's tough," Green said of trying to stay away from reaching "when he shows you the ball, your first instinct is to get it,"
No doubt Green and Warriors have a tough task ahead of them. Any game against an MVP runner-up is going to be tough, but now he is coming off a game where he looked pretty bad. No doubt Harden is looking to atone his game one performance.