James Harden and Philadelphia came into the 2nd round opening game against Miami Heat with the realization that he would have to be at his best if they were to win, even if he did not score 30-40 points. He needed to create chances on the floor for his teammates and himself at a constant and dominant clip.
But it never happened, as James Harden ended with a measly 16 points on 13 shots as Philadelphia went down 106-92 in the first game. His tally of turnovers matched his assists (5). Two possessions that comprised 40% of James Harden’s buckets point out the fact that scoring was an uphill task on this day against the elite defense of Miami.
James Harden had anything but a great game on Monday. He shot a mere 5 for 13 while he was 2 for 7 from the deep. He also made only 4 free throws on the night.
James Harden Needs To Up His Game And Deliver A Win Before Embiid Come In
Miami Heat offered a mere 2 defenders to conceivably target, Max Sterus and Herro as Duncan Robinson was out of the rotation in the first game. With Herro the weakest defensive link in the Heat lineup, Harden found himself in a one-on-one situation with 3 minutes to go in the 1st quarter. Instead of trying to beat him off the dribble, he preferred a step-back 3.
Not long ago, James Harden would have blown away Herro, or drawn a foul at least. The point is all Harden saw was a crowd and could not find a way into the paint against a novice defender like Herro. It is not enough that James Harden becomes a 3-point settler.
The point is James Harden cannot beat defenders consistently off the dribble anymore, as evident in his reluctance to take on Herro.
Right before halftime, Harden put up the Sixers for the first time with 30 seconds to go. It will be tough for Philadelphia if Embiid does return by Game 3 or Game 4. But for that to happen, Harden has to give one big performance and win it for the Sixers.