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Odds Suggest James Harden’s Scoring Spree Won’t End Anytime Soon

Ryan Murphy

by Ryan Murphy in NBA Basketball

Jan 15, 2019 · 3:51 PM PST

James Harden
James Harden has led the NBA in scoring in back-to-back seasons. Photo by David Santiago/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire.
  • James Harden is favored to score 30 points or more in each of his next six games
  • The Beard is averaging a career-high 34.8 points per game in his seventh season with the Rockets
  • Harden has scored 40 points or more 14 times in 2018-19

James Harden’s scoring spree has generated plenty of headlines over the past month. And now, after a season-high 57-point outburst against the Grizzlies, it’s also generated a tantalizing new prop.

Books are allowing basketball fans to wager on how long Harden’s current run of 30-point games will continue. The Beard recorded his 17th consecutive 30-point performance on Monday night and will need to chug along at the same dizzying pace for the next six contests to eclipse the sportsbook’s over/under of 22.5 games.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to see if the six-time All-Star can pull it off.

How Many Consecutive 30-Point Games Will James Harden Have?

Number of Consecutive 30-Point Games By James Harden on His Current Streak Odds
Over 22.5 -130
Under 22.5 -110

How Did We Get Here?

Harden began his current spree on December 13th when he dropped a cool 50 points on the Lakers in a commanding 126-111 win at Toyota Center. He has since scored 40 points or more in nine of his last 16 games, including a sensational five-game span in which he averaged 42.8 points per outing.

Harden now holds the record for most consecutive 30-point performances since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976. The only other players to accomplish the feat are Elgin Baylor, who did so with the Lakers from December 1961 to October 1962, and Wilt Chamberlain, who strung together 20 such 30-point games in 1964 with the Warriors.

James Harden 2018-19 Statistics

34.8 .437 .379 6.3 8.6

How Has Harden Been Doing It?

The simple answer is that he’s been shooting. A LOT. Harden is averaging 26.8 field goal attempts per game. That’s 6.2 more shots than Anthony Davis, his next closest competitor.

The Beard has also been living at the line. His 13.9 free-throw attempts per game are far and away the most in the league, and are 5.5 higher than his own lofty career average.  Harden’s ability to draw fouls was especially evident on New Year’s Eve as he hoisted up 27 free-throw attempts against the Grizzlies. By contrast, Memphis had 30 free-throw attempts as a team.

Harden’s hot streak has coincided with a rash of injuries to the Rockets. Nine-time All-Star Chris Paul has missed the last 12 games with a strained left hamstring, and former Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon has been sidelined for the past eight games with a knee injury.

Their absences have put the ball in Harden’s hands even more often than usual, leading to his league-leading 38.7% usage rate. That’s more than 3.5% higher than a year ago.

Can Harden Keep the Streak Alive?

Few players are more immune to poor shooting performances than Harden, who can still outscore nearly everyone else on the floor just by heading to the charity stripe. That was the case on January 13th against the Magic, when the 29-year-old guard scored 38 points despite going 0-17 from beyond the arc. His ability to draw whistles always gives him a chance to pad the stat sheet.

Harden will also benefit from a few cupcakes in Houston’s upcoming schedule, as the Rockets face a trio of sub .500 teams in the Nets, Knicks, and Magic, and a reeling squad in the Lakers. El Chapo has yet to face Brooklyn or New York this season, but is averaging 38 against Orlando and 43 against LA.

Harden’s referee baiting and endless trips to the free-throw line aren’t always entertaining, but they are remarkably effective. Count on him keeping his streak alive for the next six games – and beyond – as he remains the Rockets’ first, second, and third option.

Pick: Over 22.5 

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