Austin Rivers not worried about traps on James Harden, says it’s Rockets’ job to punish the defensive scheme
The Houston Rockets’ offense revolves around former league MVP James Harden. As such, teams have sent defensive traps on him in an effort to slow down the Rockets’ offense. However, Austin Rivers is not worried about this. He even hopes that more teams continue to run this defensive scheme.
In their 119-109 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the Nick Nurse-led squad sent all sorts of traps and double teams to Harden. This opened up all sorts of opportunities for the rest of the Rockets. Per Michael Grange of Sportsnet, Rivers shared that they’ve seen every type of defense at this point and know how to counter-attack.
“We’ve seen it all at this point,” said Rivers, who made three triples and counted five assists in 28 minutes off the bench for Houston. “We’ve been saying for weeks that if teams do that we’re going to make them pay, you know what I mean. I hope teams keep doing that because we have plenty of shooters. It’s very simple to figure out, it’s grade school stuff. Someone flashes to the middle and then they find an open shooter from there. It’s either a lay-up or a three.
Rivers finished with nine points, five rebounds, and five assists. But it wasn’t just him who seized the openings. Ben McLemore lighted it up with 28 points, PJ Tucker chipped in 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook had another triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Harden (by his standards) was contained to just 23 points.
The game only goes to show that while the Rockets’ offense center upon Harden, they’re not entirely dependent on his offensive firepower. Teams may be able to contain him well-below his averages. However, the Mike D’Antoni-coached squad has tons of weapons stashed — well-sharpened and ready to be wielded anytime.