James Harden is one of best scorers in the NBA and a difficult assignment for any defender. Matthews and Batum will likely get the majority of the defensive responsibility on Harden, but foul trouble and the need for breathers on the bench will likely mean that a reserve will need to guard Harden for periods of time. One of them (mostly Batum) will also have their hands full guarding Chandler Parsons.
Harden is big physical guard with crafty skills to get around smaller or equal sized defenders. Harden is quick and a great ball handler, but he is not the greatest leaper. I think Stotts should consider Thomas Robinson as a possible defensive option against Harden. T-Rob has the size and strength to hold his ground when Harden tries to bull his way to the hoop. As possibly the most athletic player on the Blazers roster, Robinson also has the speed to keep up with Harden as well. Even if Harden is able to get a little bit of separation, Robinson has the length and leaping ability to challenge his shots. Having to bang against a bigger stronger defender may help tire Harden out as well and allow Matthews and Batum to stay fresh.
It's certainly possible that Harden is too quick and crafty for Robinson and could simply draw a ton of fowls with his flops and drives. However, I think the upside of the match-up is big enough to give a Robinson a crack at Harden for a couple five minute stretches.
Thoughts? Any other defensive match-ups out there that could help the Blazers beat the Rockets? If the Blazers bring their best effort on D I think they can knock off the Rockets in six. Go Blazers!