If Philadelphia is in such a good position in the first round, it is not thanks to James Harden. The Beard continues to disappoint, and some analysts no longer hesitate to shoot him at every opportunity. The latest tirade was particularly scathing.
It’s a great opportunity that the Sixers let slip tonight, losing on the floor of Toronto (110-102). Indeed, Doc Rivers’ men were leading 3-0 in this series of the first round and could have made a sweep by winning this meeting. Instead, they will have to play at least one Game 5, with the objective of closing the case as soon as possible and thus guaranteeing themselves a few days of rest before the rest of the competition.
In defense of the Pennsylvania franchise, their squad also did not come into this game in the best of shape. Joel Embiid who had shone against the Canadians so far, is indeed damaged in the ligaments of the thumb and it has been seen: his 21 points (7/16 shooting) and 8 rebounds were well below his usual averages. The problem is that The Process has not been supported as it should be by his teammates. Tyrese Maxey faltered (11 points at 4/12), but it is above all James Harden which drew criticism.
Stephen A. Smith Ruthless with James Harden
Under pressure before the face-to-face, The Beard was thus dramatic during his 42 minutes of playing time, finishing with 22 points at only 5/17 shooting, all accompanied by four loss of ball. Once again, the back was very clumsy in scoring, and it is difficult to recognize the MVP player in 2018. A finding shared by a large majority of observers, like Stephen A. Smith who seriously shot the person concerned after the game :
“James Harden looks done! … The James Harden that we saw in Houston, that brother is no more.”
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 23, 2022
James Harden is finished! What I mean by “finished” is not that he is a wreck, at the end of his rope. He can still play. He can average 20 points and 8 assists. I’m talking about the James Harden we saw in Houston, that guy is gone. He doesn’t get as much separation from his defender anymore, he doesn’t break free and avoid defenders because he just doesn’t have his speed anymore. He hasn’t been the same since his hamstring injury.
If he has certainly accumulated 9 assists, the fact remains that the former Rockets seems to have lost a lot of his ability to score, and no one can stop him. He seems completely out of rhythm, and if it hasn’t had too many consequences against the Raptors yet, nothing says it will be the same for the rest of the playoffs. Clearly, El Chapo must imperatively find a miracle solution to get back in the saddle.
James Harden has work ahead of him, and it would be better if he took care of it before the start of the second round. Philly should qualify there except disaster, and it will then be necessary to show on its 31 in terms of level of play… which it has not done for a while.