“He’s like artificial intelligence,” Snyder said of Harden on Tuesday. “His ability to dissect and recognize different situations, particularly spacing, and they do a great job with him. Coach D’Antoni, that’s part of his brilliance. He’s putting people in the right places, changing spacing, moving things around.”
Harden recorded 29 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in the Rockets’ 122-90 Game 1 victory on Sunday.
Snyder’s approach of forcing the reigning NBA MVP to his right on defense didn’t fare too well, as the rest of Houston’s starting group went off for double-figure performances. The team shot 50.5% on the night, while the Jazz finished with 39.0% mark from the field.
“Really, in the first half, and some of the second, too, [it was] our inability to get a rebound when we did get a stop — particularly in the third quarter, when I thought we did start to play better,” Snyder said, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.
“If you give a team that’s that good multiple possessions …” he added, trailing off, not needing to state the obvious conclusion.
The Rockets are the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and will host the Jazz again for Game 2 before giving Snyder’s crew an opportunity to steal a couple of games on their home floor. It’s likely they will avoid the similar defensive scheme he rolled out for Harden in Sunday’s loss.
But the southpaw wizard that is Harden has become nearly impossible to contain, and it looks to be the same story for the remainder of the series.
We’ll just see what else the Jazz can do to make a run.