James Harden was a non-factor as the Philadelphia 76ers bowed out of the NBA Playoffs. Stephen A. Smith had some thoughts.
The Philadelphia 76ers went quietly into that good night, ending their 2022 postseason with a 99-90 loss at the hands of the Miami Heat. It was the fourth time in the last five seasons the 76ers have been eliminated in the second round.
There are myriad reasons the 76ers’ season is over but the failure of their stars to show up in the biggest game was definitely part of it. Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid combined for 54 points but shot 22-of-59 (37.3 percent) from the field and 5-of-20 from beyond the arc with as many turnovers (7) and assists (7).
And then there was James Harden.
The 76ers’ big midseason addition finished with just 11 points and only attempted nine shots in the game, just two in the second half. As an astute NBA Redditor pointed out, Harden finished with 0 combined points in the last two fourth quarters of the season. Even Ben Simmons managed three points in his last two fourth quarters for the 76ers.
As you would expect Stephen A. Smith had plenty to say about Harden’s no-show
Stephen A. wasn’t the only one throwing shade at Harden after the game. Joel Embiid was pretty candid in describing the kind of player Harden is at this point in his career. Tyrese Maxey was seen throwing a seat cushion after arguing with Harden on the bench.
Harden for his part seemed to attribute his passivity to the ball not making its way back into his hands.
For the postseason, Harden averaged 18.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game but shot just 40.5 percent from the field and attempted fewer shots than Embiid, Harris and Maxey. It’s clear he’s not the same player he once was. But can he be the player the 76ers need him to be?