Daily MVP Film Breakdown: Harden Limited to 42

Can you say you played good defense on a guy if he scored 42 points? When that guy is James Harden, the answer is yes.

Eric Bledsoe started the game with a funky defensive strategy on Harden, and it definitely took the hottest player in the league out of his rhythm. Harden takes what the defense gives him, and Bledsoe took away the three and the drive left by staying in Harden’s left pocket all night.

Taking away Harden’s most dangerous moves still leaves you defending one of the best drivers in the world, but the proactive approach disrupts his gameplan and the defense knows what to expect. After Bledsoe’s early success, his teammates used the same strategy with similar effect.

This strategy forced Harden to attempt some tough shots and passes, and he finished the night with 17 misses and 9 turnovers.

As novel an idea as this was, no defense can stop James Harden for 48 minutes. He’s one of the most talented offensive players in the league, and can still make things happen going to his right.

With the defense keyed in on forcing Harden right, some opportunities opened up for his teammates. The Bucks did well to limit Harden to just 6 assists, but he definitely made them pay when they gave him an open teammate. He’s pretty incredible at that.

Harden’s stepback is one of the most unguardable moves in the league, and it doesn’t really matter who is defending the shot or how. Sometimes, it just goes.

Perhaps no play best sums up Harden’s night than this one. He missed a three, got the ball back, drove right and threw up a no-look lob to Capela and it went in the bucket.

It seems crazy to say that the Bucks held James Harden to just 42 points, but that’s exactly what they did. He shot just 13/30 from the floor, got 6 assists but turned it over nine times and wound up losing. The Beard will always put up crazy numbers, but the Bucks might have found the best way to beat him.

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