The Giannis Harden beef seems to be heating up in the NBA this season. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo famously spurned the chance to pick Houston Rockets superstar James Harden for the All-Star game, claiming he wanted someone who would pass the ball. Thus, the Milwaukee Bucks star laid the foundation of a Giannis Harden beef that seems to be bubbling under the surface. It now appears that James Harden has stoked that fire earlier this week.
The Houston Rockets have adopted the small-ball approach for this season. The move to trade Clint Capela in favour of Robert Covington was aimed at fortifying this small-ball approach, with Covington at a 7'2" wingspan being the biggest man on the Rockets' roster. James Harden, in comparison, stands at 6'5"; not the tallest shooting guard in the NBA. At the All-Star game earlier this year, Giannis Antetokounmpo detailed how Team Giannis looked the James Harden defence as the weak spot on Team LeBron. “Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”
While James Harden may not have quite replied to that statement aside from an innocuous line about Giannis picking Kemba Walker over him, the Rockets superstar has now launched a spirited defence of the James Harden defence. In an interview with ESPN, of the James Harden defence, the Rockets superstar said, "We switch so much that they've got to target somebody. I play so many minutes that they feel like they can just exploit me. I mean, it hasn't worked ... Come try it, and the (expletive) won't work."
The Houston Rockets are comfortably placed to make it to the playoffs this season. However, the surprising loss to the New York Knicks at the Madison Square Garden could come back to haunt James Harden, Russel Westbrook and co. At the Toyota Center on Thursday night (Friday morning IST), the Rockets perished to the Los Angeles Clippers with Kawhi Leonard dropping 25 points on the night. The James Harden points tonight section, in comparison, read a modest 16 points, with Russell Westbrook dropping a game-high 29 points.