Celtics 99. Rockets 98. What… A… Game! The Celtics trailed by 26 points to the team that held the second best record in the NBA. The game was over and the Celtics downward spiral had reached its peak on National TV. The sixteen game win streak was an after thought. The naysayers were loving it. In particular, Charles Barkley, during the halftime show, was as giddy as ever. The game was “O-V-E-R” according to Barkley.
Of course, Barkley has always enjoyed putting down the team in green for many years. He simply can’t be objective when it comes to the Celtics. He still hasn’t gotten over the days where Larry Bird and Kevin McHale dominated him while winning in the 1980’s. Of course, Barkley never won a title himself so he completely resents a team that has won seventeen. But, enough about Chuck. The point here is that the Celtics continue to prove people wrong and last night was the highlight of the season along with the win over the Warriors in November.
So how did the Celtics come back? Well, their effort level jumped through the roof in the 3rd quarter. Their shots started to go down. The third reason? James Harden. That’s right. James Harden. He helped the Celtics get back into the game. The Harden supporters will tell you to look at his great numbers last night.
34 points. 10 assists. 6 rebounds. MVP-caliber performance, right?
The numbers you won’t see? 8 turnovers. 7 for 27 shooting for the game and 3 for 17 in the second half.
3 for 17 was a major contributing factor to this win. Harden spent the majority of the second half selfishly chucking threes with a player right up on him. Terrible shots possession after possession. Why? Because that’s what James Harden does. James Harden cares about James Harden.
Even though the Celtics made a tremendous comeback, they were still trailing the entire fourth quarter. It was looking as if this game was going to go the other way. Harden committed two offensive fouls with Marcus Smart covering him in the last 20 seconds which cost his team that game. Winning players would have been accountable and felt bad for losing the game for their team.
Not James Harden.
After the game, Harden focused on the officials rather than costing his team the game. ‘First of all, how do you only have two officials in a national TV game? That is the first question. A lot of grabbing, a lot of holding. How else am I supposed to get open? A guy has two arms around my whole body”, said Harden.
Granted, the fact that there were only two officials was different than normal. Do you know what winning players do when they’re adversity or a change?
They adjust. They lead. They win…regardless.
Here were Kyrie Irving’s comments regarding being told there were only two officials last night:
“Once the ref was hurt, I was like both of you guys are going to do this? I was alright and I told my teammates we were going to have to refs out here, so use that to our advantage.”
Advantage. Adjustment. Win no matter what the circumstance.
One player used the situation with the officials as an excuse for the loss. The other used it to his advantage to win with his team.
Many NBA “experts” would tell you that James Harden is the league MVP. They base their opinion on stats. They don’t base it on leadership, winning, and making the team better.
Kyrie Irving is a winner. He’s an NBA champion. Don’t start with the Lebron’s sidekick talk. We all know who made the shot to take down Curry and the Warriors to win the title. James Harden, on the other hand, is an excuse maker. When the going gets tough, he gives up and he loses as a result. Take a look at his playoff history and you’ll see this repeatedly. When the going gets tough, James Harden folds.
Go ahead and take your “MVP”, James Harden. Keep building those stats up, loft up more threes late in the game, and tell everyone all of the excuses you need regarding why you don’t win.
Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving will continue to be the more valuable WINNER and continues to develop as a LEADER.