James Harden takes over, leads 76ers to 116-108 victory over Miami Heat
Ladies and gentlemen, the 76ers now have a best-of-three series against the Miami Heat to advance to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Last night, the city of Philadelphia witnessed a vintage performance from James Harden and the result was a 116-108 victory over the Heat to tie the second-round playoff series at two games a piece.
This was the moment 76ers fans have all been waiting for since the NBA Trade Deadline on February 10th. James Harden scored 31 points, while adding seven rebounds and nine assists.
Harden scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and crushed the souls of the Miami Heat with four three pointers in the final frame.
Joel Embiid was 7-for-13 from the floor with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey was 5-for-10 from the floor and finished the night with 18 points, three rebounds, and four assists. Tobias Harris elevated his game in the fourth quarter as well, finishing the night with 13 points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Danny Green and Georges Niang combined to make 5-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc, providing yet another spark from the supporting case. The two finished with a total of 21 points, and continue to return to form after two miserable games in Miami to start the series.
At the end of the night, nobody on the Heat could contain The Beard, who nailed six of his ten attempts from beyond the arc. Harden’s six threes were the most he’s had since being dealt to Philly in February.
If the Sixers have this version of Harden for the remainder of the series, the next several games won’t be close. It’s unlikely that’s the case and honestly, that’s okay. Harden was brought here to give Philly a performance like we saw last night, and delivered in the most pivotal playoff game to date.
Embiid continues to battle through a laundry list of injuries and honestly, it’s amazing what he’s still able to do on a basketball court. Offensively, it was a “quiet” night again for Embiid, as he finished with just 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting. The Heat were in foul trouble early and often and Embiid made them pay, hitting 9-of-13 free throw attempts.
Defensively, is where Embiid made his biggest impact, grabbing 11 rebounds and two offensive rebounds to help anchor the 76ers defense. Embiid is a freak of nature. Just look how he’s able to step out and pick up a guard along the perimeter. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Whistles also stalled Embiid’s offense, finishing the night with four personal fouls. After the game, Embiid put most of the blame on himself and said that he will be better as the series continues defensively and offensively and I have no doubt in my mind he will do just that.
Unstoppable three-point barrage
Philly was incredible from beyond the arc tonight, hitting 16 of their 33 attempts. Harden led the way with six threes, while Danny Green continued his hot streak shooting 3/4 from deep.
Meanwhile, the Heat shot just 20% on 35 attempts, with no player making more than two. The three-point discrepancy decided tonight’s game, and if the 76ers can continue their elite perimeter defense on the road, things could get ugly for Miami.
With all of the momentum in their favor, the 76ers will travel back to Miami to face the Heat for Game Five on Tuesday night at 7:30 on TNT. Game Six has also been scheduled for Thursday night in South Philly on ESPN.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo