The post-NBA era is upon us and each year you can pick out a few players with something to prove. Giannis Antetokounmpo did just that last season (regardless of how many breaks they had), taking Milwaukee to the title, and LeBron James the year before when he led the Lakers to their first championship in a decade. .
James Harden has the most to prove in these playoffs between star players. You could argue he has the most to prove in the post-season since the Houston Rockets, led by Harden, fell to the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the Western Conference finals. When you’re the best player on an absent team 27 attempts three pointsYou will be blamed no matter how many points you have scored.
Since his Houston days, we’ve seen Harden make a brief stop in Brooklyn before settling in Philadelphia with the 76ers by the February trade deadline. Although Harden is no longer the “Boy” on his current team, he is still more than “just a guy” to the Sixers. Harden is a former MVP and three-time scoring champion. Joel Embiid could be the MVP of this year’s tournament. There’s no reason why this duo shouldn’t be favored to bring it out of the East.
If the Sixers have any chance of breaking through the Eastern Conference ring, Harden needs to be a key factor in that equation. And so I’m not just talking about him being average, but also very important. I’m talking about making shots at the right time when the games are in progress, like on Tuesday night against the Bucks.
Milwaukee fought back to take the lead late into the fourth inning and took a two lead with five seconds remaining in allotment time. Harden had the ball in his hand and had a chance to take the lead or take the lead, and of course, he hit the treble but missed horribly, thereby giving Milwaukee the win. Sure, Harden scored 32 points in this game, but with enough time to get a better shot, he opted to take three steps back from outstretched arm instead it was the 7-foot-tall Brook Lopez.
That’s why I don’t trust Harden when it matters most in the big games. He just hasn’t shown that he can get through and play correctly most of the times in that situation. Harden is not the leader of this team, but there will be times in the post-season when the Sixers need him to make a big play, and he hasn’t always shown that he’s capable of doing so. so.
Harden is not one of the LeBron James, Michael Jordan, or even Kevin Durant types of players we would expect to win many trophies in their careers. I don’t consider Harden the all-time top 10-15 player, but if he wants to get close to that, he needs to win the title while still being able to play an important role on the championship team.
Philly has a great defender and great man formula that we have seen win many titles in the past. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is the Magic Johnson-Kareem Abdul Jabbar Lakers, then Shaquille O’Neal and the Kobe Bryant Lakers. Those doubles have resulted in a total of eight championships between them. No, I’m not comparing Harden to Magic or Kobe. But he was one of the best defenders of his time. So I don’t think they’re asking too much to bring Philly a title. The Sixers have a wonderfully loyal fan base no matter how wild they can get at times.
This squad will have at least a couple of years to show what they can do, under Embiid and Harden. But if at least they can’t make it to the NBA Finals within the next few years, then Harden’s experience will be considered a failure. Damn, anything is lacking when it comes to ECF this year, and there’s going to be a lot of criticism going around.
The 76ers need to be in win-now more than any other team. James won’t be young anymore, and we know what happens to him when a situation turns sour in his eyes. And Embiid no? it feels like his prime will be super long just like LeBron or Kevin Durant.
If I had to choose Philly or the fields in the east for the next three years (so Harden stick around), I want to play because it’s hard to trust Harden when it’s really worth it. We’ve seen him show up time and time again. Now it’s time for Harden to show us something else.