Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders tonight at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.
James Harden is extremely difficult to officiate. He flops more than anybody and he initiates contact more than anybody.
And when it comes to initiating contact, the Rockets star doesn't just do it when he's driving to the rim. The reigning MVP seeks it out when he shoots from the beyond the arc as well.
On Monday night, ESPN's Scott Van Pelt showed the following video compilation on SportsCenter:
James Harden shooting open 3’s vs. contested 3’s pic.twitter.com/N2LEmpR59I— Stanford Steve (@StanfordSteve82) April 30, 2019
This is quite revealing.
As the video shows, Harden doesn't leap forward or kick his legs out when shooting open shots. He only does so when a defender is in the area, as to initiate contact and take advantage of the "landing space" rule.
Harden was fouled on 3-point attempts a league-high 95 times this season, as the video indicates.
Kemba Walker and Terrence Ross were second at 34.
That's a massive gap between No. 1 and No. 2.
In real time, it's very difficult for an official to make a split-second judgment about the level of contact, especially with Harden frequently falling to the ground.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, the officials didn't reward Harden in Game 1.