MIAMI — In order for the Philadelphia 76ers to win this series with the Miami Heat and have a shot without superstar big man Joel Embiid, they will need James Harden to go out there and be the future Hall of Famer he has been his entire career.
In Monday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat, Harden didn’t have a great game. He shot just 5-for-13 and he was 2-for-7 from deep while also taking only four free throws on the night. In order for Philadelphia to win this series, Harden absolutely has got to be better. There is no excuse for a performance such as this one.
“I think I can be a little bit more aggressive,” said Harden. “They did a really good job of just boxes and elbows just showing their bodies and crowding the ball when ball screens came. We’ll watch film, find ways to get better, but I think the shot-making is what opens up the floor for our entire team. We make a couple shots then that floor opens up a little bit more.”
To Harden’s point, it doesn’t help that Philadelphia shot a putrid 6-for-34 from deep. That isn’t going to cut it at all and the Heat can then pack the paint a bit.
It also doesn’t help that Heat forward P.J. Tucker really hounded Harden up and down the floor and he didn’t give him any free lanes to the basket.
“P.J.’s P.J.,” said Harden. “He plays hard, but that’s not something I’m worried about.”
When asked what the Heat did to really bother him and stop him from getting to the free-throw line, Harden answered: “Next question.”
Harden and the Sixers now must figure things out quickly before Game 2 on Wednesday back at FTX Arena in Miami.
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