Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not?

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Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#1 » by ardee » Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:57 pm

The fact is that outside of 2017 Curry is an underwhelming Playoff performer for a guy of his ability and reputation. And even in 2017 you have to remember he was on the most loaded team of all time and that certainly helped with his efficiency.

Look at 2019 for example. He was silent more or less the first two rounds, then had the big series against the Blazers who frankly should not have even been there and were really a first round opponent level. Then in the Finals he never took charge the way you'd expect of someone of his reputation except the 47 pointer. He keeps getting compared to Magic, Bird and Jordan as an offensive player by some... well where are the results?

2015: this was probably the best run he had considering his supporting cast
2016: overall just very very disappointing and frankly I'd say it damaged his reputation permanently
2017: excellent numbers for sure but the circumstances are unique
2018: again, very disappointing, missed a bunch of games and it was clear he was second fiddle to Durant in the Playoffs this year
2019: very inconsistent again and his Blazers series saved his overall stat line

Now mind you these aren't bad by any means, I'm only talking relative to his ability and what he shows in the RS. Meanwhile Harden is actually the better RS player, so it makes you wonder about why one is approached one way and another another.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#2 » by 70sFan » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:05 pm

To be honest, I don't know. People just don't like the way Harden plays.

I prefer Curry over Harden not because of playoffs, but because I prefer his style of player. I don't like ISO-heavy basketball because it's easier to game plan against. I view Curry and Harden similary, although I'd still give Curry edge.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#3 » by Dupp » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:06 pm

Because he’s had a more stacked team around him and winning forgives everything.

Harden has been the better player for the last two or so years and outplayed curry the last two post season series the pair have played. Difference is curry has had a team that can pick up the slack when he’s down or even not playing. Currys played on a team able to win multiple playoff series with him in the stands. Easily at that too which is crazy. I remember when rose went down they lost 4 of the next 5 when they were gonna sweep. Curry can just chill until he plays toe rockets or lebron.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#4 » by NO-KG-AI » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:14 pm

He doesn't. Plenty of people give him a lot of flack(myself included) for his dip late into the post seasons. The numbers in the 2016 regular season paint him as up there with anyone all time offensively, and it's just not so in the playoffs. He's still really good, and really dangerous, and super explosive, but the consistency isn't there like it was, and his 3 ball dropping to mortal levels is the main reason he loses some luster.

His regular season career low is 41.1% from 3.(peaking at 45.5, above 44% in 5 different seasons, only below 43.7 on 3 occasions)

His career high in the post season is 42.2%, and he's been below 40% 4 times, as opposed to above it 3 times.

I think guys like he and Harden that are so reliant on tough, contested long range shots off the dribble are going to struggle more when those contests get tougher and tougher, and it gets so much harder to shake free on ball screens or pick and rolls. It's honestly amazing that he can still keep his 3 pt % as high as it is, given the difficulty and volume, but you can live with it a little more when he's shooting 39% as opposed to 45% lol.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#5 » by No-more-rings » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:16 pm

He has championships and Harden does not. It’s as simple as that. Even when Curry got his first ring in 2015, people thought he was so much better than Harden that year but they were actually pretty comparable.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#6 » by Lenneth » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:07 pm

Because Curry eliminated Harden all 4 times in last 5 years regardless of Durant, made to Final 5 times and won 3 championships. Most NBA greats' efficiency, including Jordan, Lebron, and Bird, drop during PO, so I generally don't put too much stock in efficiency as long as the team wins.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#7 » by G35 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:46 pm

Harden had his opportunity when he was with WB and KD in OKC...he choked in the finals big time.

Now he has had a team built completely around him, his team is built to his strength's to a fault...and it has not worked out.

Curry otoh, has done about as well as you can expect. Helped build a dynasty/ATG teams and been the catalyst, players look better next to Curry than they do next to Harden. Then the team results justify anything else...the goal is to win titles and Curry has three. It doesn't look like Harden will even get to the finals as the main guy......
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#8 » by Dutchball97 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:56 pm

I mean, Curry sees a significant drop from his regular season to his play-off performance but that doesn't mean he's worse than Harden in the play-offs. He's an All-Time great regular season player and still top 20-30 in the play-offs.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#9 » by eminence » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:35 pm

A) He's better to start with, so even with him also being somewhat inconsistent he's still better than Harden.

B) His failings have never been quite as brutal as Hardens, see the '16 1st round series where the Rockets absolutely offensively collapsed. Or the final game in '17 vs the Spurs.

B) At least some of his inconsistency is attributable to injury, which while worth discussion is a very different form of inconsistency.

C) Some of the criticisms are just bad. His '19 Finals was great.

D) Lol at putting Bird in the discussion as a top level offensive guy when talking about playoff inconsistencies.

E) Curry's offenses have largely been pretty solid in the playoffs, probably not the best ever (Magic/Nash), but not exactly way down the lists either. His failings are largely in the individual stats and not at the team results level.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#10 » by Doctor MJ » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:49 pm

ardee wrote:The fact is that outside of 2017 Curry is an underwhelming Playoff performer for a guy of his ability and reputation. And even in 2017 you have to remember he was on the most loaded team of all time and that certainly helped with his efficiency.

Look at 2019 for example. He was silent more or less the first two rounds, then had the big series against the Blazers who frankly should not have even been there and were really a first round opponent level. Then in the Finals he never took charge the way you'd expect of someone of his reputation except the 47 pointer. He keeps getting compared to Magic, Bird and Jordan as an offensive player by some... well where are the results?

2015: this was probably the best run he had considering his supporting cast
2016: overall just very very disappointing and frankly I'd say it damaged his reputation permanently
2017: excellent numbers for sure but the circumstances are unique
2018: again, very disappointing, missed a bunch of games and it was clear he was second fiddle to Durant in the Playoffs this year
2019: very inconsistent again and his Blazers series saved his overall stat line

Now mind you these aren't bad by any means, I'm only talking relative to his ability and what he shows in the RS. Meanwhile Harden is actually the better RS player, so it makes you wonder about why one is approached one way and another another.


Well the short, obviously not defensible in and of itself alone, answer is that Curry's been winning championships.

But add to that:

1) The fact that Curry has more gravitational impact and has developed his off-ball game beyond any player in history, and the thing about him is that he can still have a valuable game even when he's not racking up numbers.

2) There are aspects of Harden's playoff history that don't seem to be about inconsistency. He really does seem to get less effective the more use to him his opponent gets in the series and refs really do seem like they are making it a point not to give Harden iffy foul calls.

I don't think any of that says Curry gets a pass for the Playoffs though - it's literally the reason why LeBron's more respected than he is, and there's a major gap between those two on said respect scale. It's just that those issues are not enough to drop him down passed Harden.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#11 » by Doctor MJ » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:54 pm

70sFan wrote:To be honest, I don't know. People just don't like the way Harden plays.

I prefer Curry over Harden not because of playoffs, but because I prefer his style of player. I don't like ISO-heavy basketball because it's easier to game plan against. I view Curry and Harden similary, although I'd still give Curry edge.


It's absolutely true that people dislike Harden's tactical antics and it colors how they see him as a player.

I'll say though I've always been a Harden fan - he's local boy made good - and I really admire the made scientist innovation in his game. I think he's the cleverest player in NBA history, and I've always said I could see him keep taking leaps until he truly is the best player in the game.

But for me Curry's just always been the better players since they both entered their primes in part because I think the way he provides impact is just more scalable than the way Harden provides impact.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#12 » by BenoUdrihFTL » Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:04 pm

When you look at raw pts/reb/ast, pts/100, OBPM and even efficiency they're both elite offensive machines in the PS. But Harden's onball-dominant "system" is simply easier to gameplan for (if the intent is to suffocate him and make someone else beat you) in a halfcourt playoff setting

I also think Harden probably goes harder and longer in the RS, making it somewhat inevitable that his PS production will take a larger hit

Regardless though, both guys are historically elite in the PS even if they're a definitive tier below GOAT candidates like MJ/LBJ/KAJ
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#13 » by No-more-rings » Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:35 pm

BenoUdrihFTL wrote:When you look at raw pts/reb/ast, pts/100, OBPM and even efficiency they're both elite offensive machines in the PS. But Harden's onball-dominant "system" is simply easier to gameplan for (if the intent is to suffocate him and make someone else beat you) in a halfcourt playoff setting

I also think Harden probably goes harder and longer in the RS, making it somewhat inevitable that his PS production will take a larger hit

Regardless though, both guys are historically elite in the PS even if they're a definitive tier below GOAT candidates like MJ/LBJ/KAJ

Calling Harden and Steph just a tier below MJ/LBJ/Kareem as playoff performers is mighty generous. I’d have them below Wade-Kobe-Dirk who obviously don’t belong in tier 1 either.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#14 » by Dupp » Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:01 pm

Curry probably has more moments himself where he’s come up when it matters too. Obviously having more help helps but he’s had more of those moments than harden which rightfully helps his legacy and how he’s perceived.




I also think hardens peak has only started 2 years ago. I don’t subscribe to him being as good in 2015. Since he’s reached this level I don’t think he’s been nearly as disappointing in the playoffs. He’s actually been really great.

Rockets got screwed by the Paul injury and the refs in 2018. They missed a bizzillion 3s but the officiating was as one sided as you’ll see. It all goes to hurting hardens legacy and helping currys.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#15 » by Lost92Bricks » Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:54 pm

Because he still ended up winning those series anyway and has 3 championships. So those moments are not viewed as hurting his team in the long run.

His series last year against Harden and the Rockets is a perfect example. He had a terrible series through 5 games but the way he won it in game 6 overshadows how bad he was.

Trust me, if Curry was losing every year and ringless, those moments would get talked about all the time.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#16 » by BenoUdrihFTL » Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:54 pm

No-more-rings wrote:
BenoUdrihFTL wrote:When you look at raw pts/reb/ast, pts/100, OBPM and even efficiency they're both elite offensive machines in the PS. But Harden's onball-dominant "system" is simply easier to gameplan for (if the intent is to suffocate him and make someone else beat you) in a halfcourt playoff setting

I also think Harden probably goes harder and longer in the RS, making it somewhat inevitable that his PS production will take a larger hit

Regardless though, both guys are historically elite in the PS even if they're a definitive tier below GOAT candidates like MJ/LBJ/KAJ

Calling Harden and Steph just a tier below MJ/LBJ/Kareem as playoff performers is mighty generous. I’d have them below Wade-Kobe-Dirk who obviously don’t belong in tier 1 either.

Yeah I was being pretty broad with it, kinda like "MJ/LBJ/KAJ and then everyone else"

I do agree that after those big 3 there's more precise tiers, and I do have Dirk/Wade above Curry/Harden but I think the gap between those two tiers is smaller than the one between MJ/LBJ/KAJ and everyone else
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#17 » by Homer38 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:40 pm

Lost92Bricks wrote:Because he still ended up winning those series anyway and has 3 championships. So those moments are not viewed as hurting his team in the long run.

His series last year against Harden and the Rockets is a perfect example. He had a terrible series through 5 games but the way he won it in game 6 overshadows how bad he was.

Trust me, if Curry was losing every year and ringless, those moments would get talked about all the time.



Not many player can have a terrible series against a great team after the first 5 games and still be up 3-2 in the series....
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#18 » by Odinn21 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:33 am

Winning bias. But I'm not so sure if it's solely winning bias.

This'll be purely statistical but here we go;

Stephen Curry from 2014-15 to 2018-19
Spoiler:
26.5 pts 4.9 reb 6.5 ast 1.8 stl 0.2 blk 3.1 tov per game in r. seasons
27.2 pts 5.7 reb 5.9 ast 1.6 stl 0.3 blk 3.5 tov per game in playoffs

38.5 pts 7.1 reb 9.5 ast 2.6 stl 0.3 blk 4.4 tov per 100 in r. seasons
36.3 pts 7.7 reb 7.9 ast 2.1 stl 0.4 blk 4.7 tov per 100 in playoffs

.547 2p, .434 3p, .605 efg, .911 ft, .648 ts in r. seasons
.515 2p, .403 3p, .564 efg, .907 ft, .616 ts in playoffs

27.4 per, 0.195 ows/48, 8.1 obpm in r. seasons
23.7 per, 0.143 ows/48, 6.8 obpm in playoffs


James Harden from 2014-15 to 2018-19
Spoiler:
30.4 pts 6.4 reb 8.4 ast 1.8 stl 0.7 blk 4.7 tov per game in r. seasons
28.6 pts 5.7 reb 7.3 ast 2.0 stl 0.6 blk 4.6 tov per game in playoffs

40.5 pts 8.6 reb 11.2 ast 2.4 stl 0.9 blk 6.3 tov per 100 in r. seasons
37.4 pts 7.5 reb 9.6 ast 2.6 stl 0.7 blk 6.0 tov per 100 in playoffs

.511 2p, .363 3p, .526 efg, .862 ft, .610 ts in r. seasons
.497 2p, .323 3p, .492 efg, .882 ft, .576 ts in playoffs

27.9 per, 0.191 ows/48, 7.7 obpm in r. seasons
24.3 per, 0.118 ows/48, 6.3 obpm in playoffs


I'd say decline in Harden's numbers is definitely sharper. Not by much, but it's clear.

Then we should move to RAPM;
Stephen Curry; 1st with 12.13 in regular version and 1st with 10.22 in luck-adjusted version
James Harden; 7th with 8.15 in regular version and 8th with 7.04 in luck-adjusted version
http://nbashotcharts.com/rapm5?id=-355131210

RAPM is only available for regular seasons, here NRtg comparison of the two in playoffs;
Stephen Curry +10.1 NRtg on a +7.6 NRtg team, making his on/off NRtg differential +8.1 NRtg.
James Harden +0.6 NRtg on a -0.9 NRtg team, making his on/off NRtg differential +7.2 NRtg.

So, the reason why Curry doesn't get as much blame as Harden is that his impact is greater and his decline in production isn't as sharp.

I don't think Curry doesn't get a pass for inconsistencies. But there's a reason Harden gets more heated backlash.

I'd agree that Harden outperformed Curry in 2019 playoffs. Not so sure about 2018 though.
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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#19 » by prophet_of_rage » Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:39 am

3 rings. The game is about winning.

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Re: Why does Curry get a pass for his Playoff inconsistencies when Harden does not? 

Post#20 » by LukaTheGOAT » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:18 am

1) Curry had to deal with injuries in 2016,2018, and 2019, so there is this general belief from some people that if Curry was healthy during those playoff runs, he would have performed significantly better.

2) The most prevalent factor is that Curry has been able to win 3 championships with some of his troubles. Whether you want to argue that is because he has better teammates than Harden or that he is a significantly better player still in the PS, winning always helps to paint people in a nicer light. I have seen plenty of people say Curry>LBJ as the best player of the 2010s decade because Curry beat Lebron in 3 out of 4 Finals, as sad as that is.

3) I do believe Curry has been better than Harden in the playoffs, even though Curry has had his fair share of troubles as well.

In 2014-2018 RAPM, Steph Curry has a RAPM of 3.62 while Harden is at 1.88.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vSzp3G5rwP9xgCgluVGmR3Qj4-BMoGSYiuTKM6o_pzES6s95oQE1nQvB2CXed-4fRc_MMGgpULtDaJ_/pubhtml?gid=1009708809&single=true

In 1998-2019 Playoff RAPM, Curry has a RAPM of 4.38, while Harden is very close though lower at 4.34. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vQdG8Zv84zqKEzETDjd8KPsClcw9bPETX9v_x_KEAxjv9NrFaWikOoiSaciy1jbMiygg2D-V8DUQn0O/pubhtml?gid=112475182&single=true

I'm not the biggest fan of single season playoff RAPM, and it likely suffers from multi-collinearity issues, but dating back to 2014, Steph has beaten Harden in single season playoff RAPM every year. https://basketball-analytics.gitlab.io/rapm-data/

This version of multi-year playoff RAPM data has Steph at 5.9 and Harden at 4.3. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FILkJ_CJWvBh1ovbt-OgcgpHTi6gzj7pkg2w9AXS8yw/edit#gid=0

AuPM has Steph as having a better 3 year playoff peak as well. https://backpicks.com/2018/06/10/aupm-2-0-the-top-playoff-performers-of-the-databall-era/

Finally, if we calculate playoff PIPM from 2014-2019, Steph has a 3.89 PIPM and Harden is at 2.27. 2017-2019, has Steph at 4.46 and Harden at 3.24 https://jacobegoldstein.shinyapps.io/adjustable_pipm/

I know the amount of numbers I just mentioned must be tiring but I think you can get the idea of what I am saying. The impact metrics and plus-minus numbers all convey the general idea that Steph>Harden in the playoffs, and I would agree. Curry I think believe it or not is probably a better team defender than Harden, especially in transition, which I think counts for something. But also Curry can play on or off the ball really well, and his offensive gravity is a real thing. Curry, at least when he is off, can be quite a bit more efficient in a reduced role, as he showed at times with Durant. I can't see Harden gelling with a offensive superstar in Durant as well as Curry and I think Curry's solo acts in 2015 and 2019 (without Durant) are more impressive than anything Harden as shown.

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