Austin Reaves put up one of his better performances as a pro when the Los Angeles Lakers toppled the Orlando Magic on March 19, putting up 36 points and six rebounds while shooting nine-for-14 from the field.
“You can watch people in the past like James Harden and Trae Young, the way they come off ball screens and people are trying to fight over because they’re such good playmakers, floaters, shooters, if you go in early, they got it. You can pick spots here and there to use their speed and energy to get back in front and try to draw a foul like that. I watch James Harden and Trae to master that.” Reaves told reporters, per Kyle Goon.
Harden has earned a reputation for his ability to draw free throws throughout his career, drawing as many as 11.8 per game in his final full season with the Houston Rockets – 2019-20 – but with the Sixers, that has come down to 6.5 this season.
Doc Rivers Provides Injury Update on James Harden
Harden did not have the most productive game against the Chicago Bulls on March 20. In 47 minutes of action, Harden put up five points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds while shooting two-for-14 from the field.
During his post-game press conference, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers explained that Harden was dealing with an injury while playing against the Bulls.
“I thought he was hurting a little bit, I thought our pace was so slow, a lot of late-clock possessions, and when we’ve done that this year, typically we have not won the game,” Rivers told reporters.
Rivers then pin-pointed that Harden’s issues revolved around his foot.
Dave Early of Liberty Ballers pinpointed the exact moment in which Harden may have gotten hurt – when he tried to drive on DeMar DeRozan and had the ball stripped away from him during the second quarter.
There have been no updates since then, but Harden missed the Sixers’ previous game against the Indiana Pacers due to a left foot injury, so this could be an issue going forward, and an unwelcome one at that, knowing how close the playoffs are and how tight the Eastern Conference standings are.
Klay Thompson Singles Out James Harden
After the Golden State Warriors defeated the Phoenix Suns on March 13, Warriors star Klay Thompson singled out Harden during his postgame press conference, explaining how he likes the challenge of going up against Harden.
“I felt great,” Thompson said of his performance against the Suns via the Warriors’ official YouTube channel. “It’s the best I’ve felt all season. I cherish playing the other great twos like (Devin Booker) and Harden [and] DeMar (DeRozan). Whoever it is. I mean, when you get those matchups with the best players at your position, it’s just going to bring the best out of you. And, as a competitor, that’s what you seek.”
Harden and Thompson had faced off multiple times in the playoffs when Harden played for the Rockets. Even though Harden is in the Eastern Conference now, there’s a chance the two may meet up again as opponents in the postseason.