Look at this shit. This shit sucks.
The NBA playoffs have been pretty good so far. Giannis is turning into a postseason destroyer, John Wall is the best show on TV, and the Thunder and Rockets have given us a truly amazing combination of exhilarating and awful play. I’m entertained! The basketball has been good.
Except, of course, for all the damn fouls on three-point attempts. James Harden has been fouled behind the three-point line eight times in the four games he’s played this series, and a few of those fouls came from the particularly nasty trick you see in the GIF above. All series, Harden has been throwing his arms into defenders who are trying to hedge or go over screens and drawing cheap fouls.
This is crap!
There are a couple of things that are frustrating about this, one of them being the fact that defenders are suddenly being punished for having limbs and playing defense the way they’ve been taught to since they were six years old. But also, the NBA was supposed to have snuffed out this cynical style of play years ago.
Remember when Kevin Durant used to steal oodles of points with his “rip-through” move, in which he would swing the ball up into a defender’s outstretched arm and force a foul call? The league changed the rules in order to stop rewarding that play way back in 2011, and yet here is Harden getting away with essentially the same thing in 2017. He seems to be benefitting from the fact that his move doesn’t look like the one Durant used to do—Durant baited guys in 1-on-1 situations—but the spirit of what he’s doing is the same. Harden has essentially discovered a loophole to the new rip-through rule, and the referees haven’t been smart enough to avoid rewarding him for it.
It’s not fair to just point out Harden, either. Perhaps inspired by his tricks, it seems like many players are going out of their way to draw cheap fouls during these playoffs. Russell Westbrook has gotten in on the act himself a few times, victimizing Lou Williams on both occasions.
Some examples of this tactic are certainly more egregious than others, but I think we can all agree that this shit is lame as hell and should no longer be rewarded.