This playoffs there were a lot of players who stepped up and have risen to the occasion. But there were also players who completely disappeared in the playoffs. Among them was one specific player who had high expectations riding on him and he made several statements about his desire to win a championship. That player is the former MVP, James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden started this season with the Brooklyn Nets. Due to Kyrie’s shenanigans of not injecting the vaccine and Durant’s injury, Harden had enough and he wanted out. The Nets were then able to arrange a trade where they received Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry and sending Harden as well as Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Initially, Harden’s inclusion in the team fit like a glove. He was putting up good numbers and he meshed well with the rest of the team. However, his playing deteriorated as the season came to an end. But many were hopeful as they considered him to be reserving his energy for the grueling Playoffs.
Once the Playoffs commenced, it was a disaster. He could not contribute absolutely anything when it came time for offense. Of course he was dishing assists but most of them were forced passes which felt into is players hands.
Most of all the 76ers tempo needed to be matched by Harden and he could not do that in the games. Embiid was carrying his load as the MVP frontrunner and he came through when the 76ers needed him. Tyrese Maxey seemed more like the secondary scoring option. Harris was consistently putting up numbers when his team needed.
And it is not as though you can rely on him in the defensive end. Leaving advanced stats aside as they do not tell the whole story but Harden is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. His only asset is his scoring and playmaking and if he cannot produce that then he basically has no value to the team.
It can be understood that Embiid takes away most of the possession so it is hard for him to get going. Now that he is not there in the series against the Heat, it is expected that Harden will step up and do what he usually does.
But he did the exact opposite of his expectations. He continuously disappeared in the 2nd half when most players bring out their clutch genes. On top of that he is giving up possessions in an absurd rate which further throws shade on his skills.
What does a loss mean for Harden
If anything, James Harden’s playing style is not at all meeting the level of his desire to win the championship. His teammates are losing their temper, his coach basically does not know what can be done with Harden and the fans of Philadelphia are becoming impatient.
Putting up just 18.8 points, 9.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 turnovers per game, Harden’s saving grace right now would be if they win the championship because if they don’t then the treatment that we saw Ben Simmons get the previous year, Harden can at least expect to be treated in that manner. Instead of ‘fear the beard’ it is now the ‘beard is afraid’.