Why Harden is crucial to Philly's playoff success

Published May 11, 2022, 7:30 AMRenee Ticzon

James Harden went back to his old ways and scored when it mattered in Game 4. Can he keep playing at this level?

Is it too early to say that “vintage” James Harden is back? Perhaps.

It’s easy to get excited when Harden drops 31 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists — he’s been dishing out these numbers his whole career. It’s easy to get lost in all the excitement of gaining highlight Harden back. But before you get too excited, look at the bigger picture.

Harden had an excellent Game 4 without a doubt. He had the hot hand and was great at playmaking as well. He showed his veteran ability to get his team involved as he helped bring five other players into double figures. He was looking for his shots and aggressively attacked the basket, finally getting his shots from beyond the arc to land.

He was able to silence all the people doubting his ability to close out games with his Game 4 performance. He shot six 3-pointers, four of which came in the final quarter.

However, Harden fans have seen the disappointing side of him far too many times. In the first three games of their series against the Miami Heat, he shot 4-of-19 from downtown. Plus, he made no 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of each series. 

Harden has always had an issue closing out games throughout his career – and having one good game doesn’t mean he’s broken the habit. There is still a question of consistency when it comes to Harden in the playoffs.

Right now, it’s too early to tell if Harden can continue this type of play, but it does not mean that Philadelphia fans should not be excited about what happened. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and it may even be key to the 76ers advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Joel Embiid will definitely be the focal point of the defense now that he’s returned so he will do what he can with the defense and his plethora of injuries. Therefore, Harden may be the game-changer if the Sixers want to close out the Heat. If he can continue dropping these excellent late-game performances, then the door to the finals definitely opens up for Philadelphia.