Corporate Knowledge: Shepherding James Harden

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Ethan Sherwood Strauss of HoopSpeak: “To over-simplify, San Antonio forced Harden to make the drive of least resistance. On the right side of the floor, they enticed him right. On the left side of the floor, Harden’s man guided him left. This latter strategy may have been a bit counterintuitive, because, as previously mentioned, he loves to go left. But this at least meant JH couldn’t draw a foul in the way he loves to: By bumping into a drive-blocking defender.”

Rob Mahoney at Bleacher Report: “The San Antonio Spurs offer plenty of tasty morsels for basketball junkies, but Gregg Popovich’s careful balance in his rotation of big men ranks as one of the more intriguing subplots around. Not only could few head coaches get away with appeasing a handful of NBA-caliber big men while feeding them varying roles and minutes, but even fewer yet could do so with such remarkable strategic grace. Pop has an absurdly firm grasp on his team’s limitations and does a fantastic job of managing a variety of imperfect options in the wide spectrum of situations that the NBA season provides.”

Beckley Mason at TrueHoop: “But now that Duncan’s no longer an MVP candidate, is Duncan really the reason the Spurs are good? Can his presence really explain how Danny Green and Boris Diaw, players deemed unworthy to play for two of the worst teams in the league, are starting on the best team in the NBA?”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: “Gregg Popovich would never admit the same. But he also has coached knowing he had to answer to no one but his owner, Peter Holt. Popovich is what no other NBA coach is, the vision of his franchise, and this is the model that has made the Spurs who they are.”

J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “The greatest testament to a successful political system is the peaceful transfer of power: regime change without strife or bloodshed. That’s the way it has been for the Spurs, from David Robinson to Tim Duncan, from Duncan to Manu Ginobili and now Tony Parker. If you want plotting, double-crossing and high-carnage battles, catch “Game of Thrones” on Sundays. San Antonio is a long way from Westeros. With the Spurs, regimes change with neither a fight nor instructions from above.”

Trevor Zickgraf of Project Spurs: “I think it might’ve been Steve Kerr who said the Spurs may have had Durant in mind when they traded for Jackson.  The last thing I want to do is turn this in to a Jackson vs. Richard Jefferson, but neither Jefferson and Kawhi Leonard are suited to defend Durant.  As Coach Pop pointed after the game, it’s almost impossible to guard Durant, but Jackson made a name for himself post “Malice in the Palace” for playing tough, in your face, annoying defense.  That is neither Jefferson nor Leonard’s game.  It’s not Jefferson’s because when he was younger he relied on his length and athleticism to defend other guys and really was never an elite defender.  By the time he got to San Antonio, he was an average to above average defender, but certainly not one of the tough nosed variety.  Leonard could very easily become that type of guy, he just never had to before this season.  His hustle and willingness to dive for loose balls, jump balls, etc. shows he has the mentality to become a Jackson like defender in terms of grittiness.”

Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports: “The Spurs aren’t remotely boring. They’re poorly marketed by a commissioner and a league that overdosed on Michael Jordan and the celebration of individual over team. They’re poorly defined by media that are gutless, politically correct and lazy.”

CapHill of Pounding the Rock: “To win a championship, a team needs two types of toughness: physical and mental. The Thunder exhibited both of these characteristics against the Lakers. But just because a team shows toughness, does that mean all parts of the team are tough? Not necessarily. For this reason, I think Russell Westbrook is the key to this series. The majority of OKC’s offense comes from their version of the “Big 3″. Kevin Durant is going to get his, no matter how great Jax and Kawhi’s defense is. He’s that elite of a scorer, but of course it helps to limit his touches. James Harden’s got game, but he’s the only creator on their 2nd unit, thereby limiting his effectiveness against a good bench (this is when OKC really misses Eric Maynor). However, the Spurs have no answer for Westbrook’s athleticism, speed and ability to finish at the rim. So why was he non-existent in the 4th quarter?”

Royce Young of Daily Thunder: “The Thunder knew exactly what had happened the night before in Game 1. And as they walked back on to AT&T Center’s floor again, it kind of sank in it seemed. They had let one get away. A nine-point fourth quarter lead seemed to set up the Thunder well to finish out Game 1. But things grinded to a halt and the Thunder couldn’t find points.”

  • STIJL

    Interesting feedback from so many different people.  You know….it’s got to be frustrating to a competitive team to have a reason of doubt they can beat another team.

    Now with intentional fouls being displayed…well…sometimes it’s more than just talent v. talent.  Sometimes one has to do what they have to do to try to win.

    I don’t think the philosophy will work and in fact think it will benefit the Spurs in the long run since the experienced players will have time to rest to finish the game with rested lungs and legs.

  • STIJL

    Besides that…Shepherding James Harden isn’t working