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Tracy McGrady wants Rockets’ James Harden to change his game in the playoffs, take more mid-range shots

Tracy McGrady, James Harden, Rockets

Former Houston Rockets great Tracy McGrady wants James Harden to call an audible in his game plan. The now-ESPN analyst boiled down Harden’s playoff inefficiency to his lack of adjustment after being well-scouted in every series, something the Golden State Warriors have gotten down pat after five years in the playoffs.

McGrady wants Harden to take more mid-range shots, as Harden has only taken (and made) one this entire series.

“I think he has to change his game somewhat from regular season to playoffs,” said McGrady as a panelist on ESPN’s The Jump on Thursday. “…You gotta take a page out of (Kevin Durant)’s book, CJ McCollum’s book, Kawhi Leonard’s book — where are these guys living at? — mid-range.

“This is a crazy stat: James Harden has taken one mid-range shot, the Houston Rockets have taken seven — KD has taken 23 or 24 mid-range shots. He’s taken more than their entire team. It’s O.K. to shoot mid-range shots, and I think he’s not taking advantage of the defense.”

While McGrady has a point, every take has its hole. The Warriors are playing to the Rockets tendencies, playing an in-between game that relies on fast closeouts to 3-point shooters and a collective effort guarding the paint between a patrol man (usually Draymond Green) and a weak side defender (literally anyone that happens to be in the vicinity).

However changing his game would be to go outside of the very philosophy this team has constructed from the top down, one that has been years in development — from GM Daryl Morey to coach Mike D’Antoni, to the likes of Harden.

The only player to resist that philosophy has been Chris Paul, whose mastery of the mid-range was too much to ignore or try to change.

For Harden to make an adjustment so drastic in a playoff series could prove derailing to this team, one that has stuck to its guts and played under that three-or-die philosophy for several years now.