PHILADELPHIA–Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle has seen a lot during his 21 years of coaching in the NBA. He led the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title in 2011 and has had a ton of success throughout his years coaching the Mavericks, the Detroit Pistons, and the Pacers.
During his time coaching the Mavs, Carlisle ran into Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden plenty of times in the playoffs. The Beard began his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets where he put his stamp on the league.
“He’s one of the best,” Carlisle said of Harden. “He’s one of the best one-on-one players in the history of the game. He won the MVP essentially being the guy that put the Houston Rockets team on his back and just was the creator. A lot of it was pick-and-roll, but a lot of it was just flat-out manufacturing it off the dribble which is so hard to do.”
Harden is not the ruthless scorer that he once was, but he is one of the top playmakers in the league just strictly off his basketball IQ and being able to direct guys into position to score. He’s averaging 22.3 points, 10.8 assists, and 6.0 rebounds on the season as he continues to evolve his game to the next step in his career.
“There’s just a few guys in the game that have that capability,” Carlisle continued. “Like, Luka (Donic) does, he does, LeBron (James) can still go get it. I mean, Donovan Mitchell I think you’d have to say after his game a couple of nights ago is a guy that can create shots, but James had to do it for multiple years.”
Then recalling his time coaching the Mavericks, Carlisle just remembered how tough it was to defend Harden every time they matched up.
“I lost count of the number of times we played him over the years in Dallas, but it was four times a year because they were in the division,” he finished. “It was very difficult.”
Harden and the Sixers will look to continue to grow when they play host to the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
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