The Philadelphia 76ers pulled out an exciting 116-115 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon. The win tied the second spherical collection at 2-2 heading into Sport 5. The 76ers are usually not down 1-3 primarily due to James Harden, who had among the best video games of his playoff profession, ending with 42 factors and the game-winning three-pointer with beneath 20 seconds left in time beyond regulation.
It was Harden’s second 40+ level recreation of the collection after solely having one such recreation the 2 earlier instances his group was within the playoffs. The decline in scoring through the playoffs within the final couple of seasons will be attributed to a couple issues.
Age catches as much as everybody, not simply NBA gamers, and it has began to catch as much as Harden within the final couple of years. Accidents have additionally performed a job. For mainly his whole Houston Rocket profession, Harden was one of the vital sturdy gamers within the league. From his first season in 2012-13 to his closing full season with the Rockets in 2019-20, Harden performed lower than 70 video games in a season as soon as, and that was the shortened 2019-20 season.
Harden not often missed video games up till that time, however within the final two seasons, he has performed 65 video games and 58 video games for the 76ers. The principle purpose that Harden’s scoring has dropped is that he has taken a again seat for the primary time in his profession to Joel Embiid, who was just lately named Most Invaluable Participant for the primary time.
This is not the primary time Harden has been a group’s second or third-best participant. When Harden began his profession within the NBA with the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, he was the sixth man for his whole time with the Thunder. Harden excelled in that function, a lot in order that he gained the Sixth Man of the Yr.
After contract negotiation fell aside, Harden was traded to the Rockets, the place he was elevated from his Robin function with the Thunder to a Batman function with the Rockets. A task he held his whole Rockets profession. Harden began his profession with the Rockets as the one star-level participant on the group till the Rockets signal Dwight Howard in the summertime of 2015. After that partnership finally failed, they tried to pair Harden with one other famous person Chris Paul.
As everyone knows, the Rockets had their most success in 20 years, with the Harden and Paul pairing profitable 65 video games and coming inside one recreation of creating it to the Finals. Even with Howard and Paul being on the group at completely different factors with Harden, it did not change the dynamic of who group it was. Harden was the Batman in each conditions, no matter how properly both star gamers throughout their tenure with the Rockets.
Identical to Howard’s on-court play, Paul would decline their final season with the Rockets, which led to Harden having to tackle much more accountability. After the Rockets traded away Paul for Russell Westbrook and the group flamed out within the second spherical vs. the eventual champions, the Los Angles Lakers, we began to listen to rumblings about Harden wanting out to pursue a hoop in a greater scenario.
Finally, the toll of carrying a whole franchise on his shoulder was an excessive amount of for Harden. After yet one more loss to the Lakers, this time through the common season, the writing was on the wall. Harden wished to let everybody know throughout his now well-known (or notorious) post-game press convention.
James Harden walked out of his press convention after saying he doesn’t assume his relationship with the Rockets will be fastened pic.twitter.com/jYrx9c61zq
— Man Boston Sports activities (@GuyBostonSports) January 13, 2021
Rockets shipped Harden to the Brooklyn Nets the subsequent day to hitch Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
At this level, you could assume that Harden would instantly return to extra of a secondary function just like his Thunder days, however that did not occur. A mixture of accidents and Irving lacking time resulting from not eager to comply with the state of New York Covid guidelines led to Harden once more having to tackle a full load of being the primary choice on a group. That’s the actual purpose he wished out of Houston within the first place.
This time, Harden was once more traded to the 76ers, which leads us to the place we are actually. Harden has teamed up with Embiid for the final season and a half, which suggests he’s not one of the best participant on the group. Embiid lead the league in scoring final season and, as we talked about earlier, lastly gained his first MVP.
Within the final two seasons, Harden has averaged 21 factors a recreation, which is his lowest mark since his final season with the Thunder. That does not imply Harden has not excelled in different areas. The final two seasons, Harden has averaged over 10.5 assists per recreation within the final two seasons and led the league in assists this season.
Going into the playoffs, most individuals assumed Embiid can be the primary choice, and Harden can be his essential assist because the second choice. That performed out for the primary spherical vs. the Nets, as Harden didn’t rating greater than 23 factors in any of the 4 video games vs. the Nets. He truly had an 8-point recreation in a 76ers win. The 76ers have been in a position to full the sweep with out Embiid, who missed recreation 4 with a knee damage.
That damage additionally saved him out of the opening recreation vs. the Celtics, and that’s when Harden switched from Robin again to Batman. Harden put up a career-high 45 factors and the game-winner because the 76ers took a 1-0 collection lead.
Embiid would return for recreation two, however it was apparent he was not one hundred pc, and the Celtics took recreation two and recreation three as Harden struggled in each losses.
With the 76ers on the verge of taking place 1-3, Harden scored 42 factors and once more had the game-winner to assist tie the collection at 2-2.
It has been a fragile balancing act for Harden as he has needed to change from main man to co-star a number of instances all through his time with the 76ers. With Embiid clearly nonetheless hampered by the knee damage, Harden will not be placing away that Batman cape anytime quickly.