What's wrong with James Harden?

Breaking down Harden's postseason shortcomings, offering solutions

Updated: May 2, 2014, 12:36 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

James HardenSam Forencich/NBAE/Getty ImagesJames Harden's defensive struggles have been detrimental to Houston's postseason hopes.

On Thursday, Kevin Durant stepped up. Now it's time for his former teammate to follow suit. Thanks to Durant's big Game 6, James Harden of the Houston Rockets is now the biggest playoff disappointment this side of Roy Hibbert.

While Harden's defensive shortcomings have been well documented, he was supposed to make up for them at the other end. With the Portland Trail Blazers contesting his every move, Harden has been unable to do that during this series, which the Blazers will try to close out at home in tonight's Game 6.

How has Portland done it? And how can Harden and Houston respond to try to keep their season alive? Let's take a look.

Keeping Harden out of the paint

First and foremost, the Blazers have achieved their goal of denying Harden easy opportunities. During the regular season, 30.6 percent of his shot attempts came in the restricted area, according to NBA.com/Stats. That figure has dropped by a third in the playoffs to 20.5 percent -- a difference of between two and three shots close to the basket per game.