Dr Spaceman wrote:Doctor MJ wrote:
My general assessment is that Curry's game just scales better with surrounding talent than Harden's does. Curry can do his thing in a way that makes it easier for other star players to do their thing, and Harden's adopted an approach that just doesn't. I don't consider these assessments to necessarily be how I'll see them when they retire, but I think Harden will need to make some changes if he ever wants to be better than Curry.
I would also acknowledge that both players haven't always played their best in the playoffs for reason that I don't think relate to how high their ceiling is. They just have been a bit spotty.
In Curry's case, it really seemed like his slight frame allowed Cleveland to rough him up back in the '16 finals, and I think in general Curry's been hesitant at times to adapt to what the defense is giving him depending on how his teammates will feel about it.
In Harden's case, he seems like he's really moody. There are times when it just seems like he can't summon the basketball demon he's been relying upon all year.
From a basketball perspective I don’t think we can say the Harden/Paul duo had a ceiling. Their offense with those two on the floor was as good as Golden State with Durant and Steph and that Rockets team probably are title favorites in at least 25 of the last 30 seasons.
But on a more fundamental level I think basketball fans could do more to understand the trauma that these guys experience as a result of their profession. Chris Bosh said losing in the Finals was worse than being in a car wreck. Dirk Nowitzki after losing in 07 spent an entire month in a tent in Australia without a phone sobbing all day and drinking whiskey from the bottle all night. Hell there’s still a hole in the wall where Dirk threw a chair at Oracle Arena. Lebron broke his hand after game 1 of the 2018 Finals punching a wall.
I don’t think these guys are blowing smoke. Some of them have experienced real personal trauma in their lives and still have this type of reaction to basketball games. These are not normal people and this is not a normal job.
I will say that I have never personally seen a basketball team play with as much anger, and grit, and focus, and intensity and physicality as that 18 Rockets team. Harden twice tried to instigate Draymond into hitting him in that series and how many times have you seen Harden react emotionally to anything? Paul of course did his shimmy move. But under all that there was a fire that I think burned them from exposure. They drilled and drilled and drilled their offensive schemes. They watched Warriors film every day, according to reports. They acted like every victory the Warriors had gotten over the previous five years was fueling their emotional pain. They were pressing so hard that Harden was stumbling around at times because his legs were so dead and Paul’s body eventually just gave up. They gave everything they had tot hat matchup and then some. They spend 6 months essentially studying for Final exams.
And then you know what? Fate looked them in the eye and said “I’ve seen your best. It’s not good enough. You’re not good enough.” That doesn’t just hurt these guys, that challenges their entire identity and their entire self-perceived value as a human being. How many guys struggle to build a life after retirement? How many guys desperately try to come back to sports when they’re too old because they don’t know how to do anything else?
There’s a rising school of thought in psychology that says that the way to deal with trauma is to build a new narrative, recontextualize the old memories and accept change as an inevitability and focus on how it makes you stronger. Most teams when they suffer traumatic losses make sweeping changes. The Warriors singed Durant. The 11 Heat overhauled their offense and brought in Battier. The Rockets in 17 traded for Chris Paul. The Cavs could count on Lovw and Irving coming back from injuries.
But when they can’t make sweeping changes, guys bail. Once you run out of options for change, it’s over. Durant left the Thunder in 16 after his heartbreak. Irving left the Cavs after they got throttled by GSW. Lebron left the Heat after getting wrecked by the Spurs. And now Paul leaves the Rockets.
Because the Rockets didn’t make changes. Matter of fact they were willing to ditch a lot of the guys who put their blood, sweat and tears into that effort, guys that Harden and Paul went to war with. They basically said the team isn’t worth paying for. If that doesn’t shatter you I don’t know what will.
And so it shouldn’t be a surprise the team started 11-14 and never recaptured the magic. They had to live with the knowledge that they peaked and they blew their best shot. Paul was never the same after he lost to the Warriors just like Nash was never the same after losing to the Lakers.
This year’s team were defeated before they stepped on the floor against the Warriors. Immediately after the game 1 loss they started bitching about refs and you can almost hear them internally screaming “**** this can’t be happening AGAIN”. And then inevitably they turn the blame on each other. “You pound the ball too much.” “You’re too old and slow”. They couldn’t get it back just like, and forgive the hyperbole, a couple who suffers a miscarriage can’t fix their marriage. It’s easy to survive Paul’s emotional tyrant when you’re winning 65 games and up 3-2 on the **** Warriors, less so when it’s proven that you’re not on their level.
You could see it in the series. Even when they played well they were playing fast and loose defensively and giving up easy looks. Guys were pointing fingers and yelling on the court and it was only a matter of time until Curry had his 30 point half and put them away.
But honestly, I think the teams that can make it work after suffering a heartbreak like that (bless the Spurs) are the exception, not the rule.
hmm..interesting & bias?