The Philadelphia 76ers got closed out by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They lost Game 6 of the second-round series at home to be eliminated yet again before the elusive conference finals. And the spotlight shifts to their All-Star duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid.
James Harden and Joel Embiid’s pairing came up short in their quest for the championship. They both seek their first ring in the NBA and were desperately hoping the superstar tandem would have worked out. But they have no one but themselves to blame.
The Sixers lost at home after having won the previous 2 home games in the series.
Joel Embiid returned after missing the first 2 losses of the series to help his team tie the series up. Only to lose the subsequent 2 games and bow out of the playoffs. He averaged 19.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while playing through injury.
Not much more he could do with his circumstances and he feels he could have had some help.
Joel Embiid expected the Houston James Harden
In the post-game press conference, Embiid made some strong comments about his newest teammate. He reacted to Harden’s performance in the Game 6 loss and did not hold back.
Joel Embiid on James Harden: “Obviously, I’m sure since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden, but that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a playmaker. I thought, at times, as with all of us, could’ve been more aggressive.” pic.twitter.com/DGf7cXqfoH
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 13, 2022
The MVP runner-up said, “Everybody expected the Houston James Harden, but that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a playmaker.”
And the numbers back up his claims. James Harden’s assists are the only numbers that have gone up from his days at the Rockets in the playoffs. His average of 7.1 assists in 85 games has risen to 8.6 assists per game in his first postseason appearance for the Sixers.
The rest? Not so impressive. Harden had an appalling second half in the decisive Game 6 where he only shot twice from the field and did not make either shot. His inability to take charge in an important game has been criticized constantly and this game just reinforces that narrative.
The Houston Harden averaged 28.4 points per game and 5.7 rebounds. In stark contrast, his numbers in Philadelphia read like this, a paltry 18.6 points and a stagnant 5.7 rebounds.
Whether Harden will stay on with the Sixers or move to his 4th team in 3 seasons next season is the question that looms large. And the Sixers front office has some tough calls to make in the offseason.