HOUSTON – With James Harden scoring 66 points in two games, mostly against the tight defense of Klay Thompson, the Warriors are considering new strategies to apply against the Rockets guard.
That was the hint dropped by Warriors assistant and primary defensive strategist Ron Adams after the team’s morning shootaround ahead of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night.
Might the Warriors try to give Harden different looks? Maybe alternate Thompson and Andre Iguodala, with occasional Harrison Barnes and maybe a dash of Draymond Green?
“I think we’ll explore . . . we always explore different things,” Adams said after pausing. “We’ll see.”
Harden’s offense has been the most difficult problem for the Warriors to solve, as the 6-foot-6 All-Star is shooting 58.5 percent (24-of-41) through the first two games. That the Warriors won both games brings a measure of comfort, but Adams prides himself on solving offensive problems.
“It’s a little bit irritating to me, because that’s how I think,” he said. “I don’t want anyone scoring on us.”
There was no sense, none at all, that Adams is disappointed in Thompson’s effort or technique. It’s just that Harden, who goes through hot and cold streaks, has been sizzling.
“I do think we’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “The threes he made the other day were really difficult threes.
“You have to have an honesty about what’s going on on the court. We can’t be fans. We can’t, because someone’s scoring and they’re doing a tremendous job – maybe in spite of the fact that we’ve done a really good job against them – we have to take some things in stride.”
There also is this: Adams’ relationship with Harden goes back to Harden’s first two seasons in the NBA, in Oklahoma City, where Adams at the time was an assistant working in a similar capacity as he does for the Warriors.
He knows his former pupil fairly well.
“I’d like to say it’s a big factor,” Adams said. “I think we know what he does well. But he is who he is, and we have to move it up a notch. I think we’re capable of doing that.”