James Harden really, really sucked Thursday night. He doesn’t usually suck.
So, the internet — a crazy place to begin with — started going nuts with theories as to why Harden looked so lost in the Houston Rockets’ 114-75 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of their second-round NBA playoff series.
Some wondered whether Harden was playing with a concussion he might have suffered in Houston’s Game 5 loss, which pushed the Rockets to the brink of elimination. Others took things a step further, asking whether the Rockets superstar should be investigated for point shaving.
Of course, we’re dealing with the internet, where people can say outlandish things and crack jokes on a whim. There’s nothing — aside from Harden’s unusually bad performance — to suggest the five-time All-Star actually was cooking the books. But the theory (or at least mentioning the theory) wasn’t limited to random hoop heads disappointed by the lackadaisical effort from one of the NBA’s best players.
All one needs to do is type “Harden point shaving” into the Twitter search bar, and chaos ensues. The theory is wacky, sure, but it speaks to how inexplicable Harden’s performance — 10 points, seven assists, three rebounds, 2-for-11 shooting — is after an MVP-caliber regular season in which he averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and an NBA-best 11.2 assists per game, especially since the Rockets were playing on their home floor and the Spurs were without their best player in Kawhi Leonard.
Nevertheless, the Rockets are going home while the Spurs are going to the Western Conference finals for a date with the Golden State Warriors — point shaving or no point shaving.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images