How did J.J. Redick become the James Harden stopper?

JJ Redick plays defense against James Harden clippers rockets NBA playoffsHalfway through the eighth year of his NBA career, JJ Redick became more than a role player coming off the bench.

J.J. Redick is one of the best shooters in the game, no doubt, but in the last couple of years, he displayed an offensive skill past the expected three pointers and mid-range jumpshots. Redick started putting the ball on the floor and showed a knack for hitting runners and floaters in the paint. But that wasn’t the most surprising growth in Redick’s game.

Despite Redick’s Clippers being eliminated by the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals, he showed a dimension that was unexpected on the other side of the ball; on defense. And not just against another shooter,b but defense against James Harden one of the more gifted offensive players in the NBA.

Redick just didn’t do a serviceable job defending James Harden, but he played him as well as any player I’ve seen defend Houston’s scoring machine. So how did Redick do it? ESPN explained some of Redick’s tactics against Harden:

“(Harden) interprets size and length as merely a bigger strike zone for drawing contact. Aggressive defense gets faked into aggressively pursuing nothing or into fouling its focus.” This is why J.J. Redick did such a counter-intuitively good job on Harden last series. Redick isn’t long and isn’t experienced in pressuring the ball. So, he positioned himself in front of his mark, gave Harden some room and stayed keyed on where his torso moved. When Harden attempted to draw contact, Redick whipped his hands up and away, like he was playing bloody knuckles.

Houston Rockets guard James  Harden dribbles against Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J.  Redick in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

Redick himself goes a little deeper into the Clipper’s defensive strategy against Harden.

“We know we have to stop him and limit his downhill attacks as much as possible. I’m doing the best I can to follow that game plan.” said Redick.“Specifically, I’m trying not to give him angles when he is (isolating) me. When he does get past me or get a step on me, just pull my hands back and keep him off the free-throw line.”

And the great news is when Harden is guarding Redick, he has to fight through several picks, forcing the MVP runner-up to use up energy on the defensive end.

Unfortunately for Redick, the Clippers couldn’t account for Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. The duo provided plenty of points and much-needed offense in the crucial closeout games six and seven.

1 Comment

  • He Didn’t. Harden is still playing jj is not.

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