By: Tye Richmond
Last night I’m pretty sure all of Philadelphia 76ers fans around the world said finally, James Harden is back.
Harden was amazing down the stretch Sunday night for the 76ers as they evened the Eastern Conference semifinal-round series with the Heat at 2-2 with a 116-108 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
He scored 16 of his 31 points in the final 9:42. It was also Harden’s first 30-point game in six weeks.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN said in a recent article, “This is the new vision for James Harden.”
“He doesn’t need to reprise his 2018 MVP form for the Sixers to win. He doesn’t need to fill up the box score or hit game-ending clutch shots. He doesn’t even need to take 20 shots, which used to be a low number for him. Harden took just 18 shots in Game 4, but it was plenty because he scored or assisted on 54 of the 98 points (55%) the Sixers scored while he was on the court.”
She continued and said, “This version of James Harden, the 32-year-old one the Sixers traded for in February with the idea of forging a long-term partnership, just needs to be solid and organize the team’s offense based on how the defense is playing him.”
I agree with everything that Ramona Shelburne said most people want James Harden to be the old Harden that was in Houston. But he doesn’t have to shoot over 20-30 times in a game anymore. He has a team that can lighten his load and if needed or when he is hot and feeling it. For example, last night he can take over and do his thing when he is hot and feeling it.
Harden was putting put the same number of shots that he does regularly the only difference is that he was finally making them.
Tobias Harris spoke about James Harden’s performance and said, “He sees so many defensive coverages out there. A lot of times they zone up the court as well, so sometimes it’s tough for him to be extremely aggressive on the offensive end. But when he’s in a groove like [Sunday night], we just get him the ball and keep it going.”
If the Sixers get this James Harden every night with Joel Embiid playing it will be tough for any team to beat them. We just saw the 76ers down 2-0 without Joel Embiid then he came back & now the series is tied 2-2 with a red-hot Harden and Embiid getting his rhythm back could be tough for the Miami Heat to win the series. Game 5 is Tuesday at 7:30 so hopefully, the Sixers can go up 3-2 and close it out in front of their home fans in Philly.