Tempers can flare in the NBA in a split second. Given the highly physical nature of the game, even under the subdued physicality imposed by the change in rules during the mid-2000s, players often run the risk of getting hurt. And in those situations, players usually go with their first instinct and try to confront the perpetrator.
This is exactly what happened last night during the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets. In a game that featured the battle between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, two other stars got into a heated confrontation, one that sparked an interesting reaction.
Boogie Cousins was guarding James Harden and was being relentless in his approach. After Cousins fouled Harden, something that happened a few times before on the night, Harden tried confronting Boogie by getting in his face. But Cousins was unfazed by Harden's intimidation strategy and responded by laughing directly in his face as officials came to separate the two.
Cousins was clearly not intimidated by Harden and didn't take him trying to get in his face seriously. The two do share a bit of history, especially during their time in the Western Conference. While Harden and Boogie never faced each other on the court in the playoffs, the two do have experience playing against each other quite a bit.
Harden got off to a great start with the 76ers but is now experiencing a shaky patch of form. He had a terrible performance against the Nets but proceeded to post a hype video for it, something NBA fans gave him a hard time for. And last night, he did score 24 points, but almost half those points came at the free-throw line alone.
Harden and Embiid have formed one of the most imposing duos in the NBA right now. And they are expected to be a contender for the NBA championship this season. Harden will have to step up his play and shake the reputation of not being a big-game player with big performances, something Charles Barkley recently said he hasn't done so far.