There’s a reason the 76ers traded for James Harden, and that reason was on full display of Game 4 of the second-round playoff series vs. the visiting Heat.
Harden erupted for 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Sixers scooted to a 2-all series tie. It was the type of game Philadelphia had been waiting for from Harden against the Heat.
“That’s the reason why he’s here. That’s the reason why we brought him,” 76ers center Joel Embiid told reporters. “Since he’s gotten here, he’s been adjusting based on what we need from him whether it’s playmaking and, tonight, just going and getting a bucket. Especially based on how they were guarding everybody else and making tough shots, he’s been doing that his whole career and that’s why he’s here.”
Harden isn’t quite as explosive as he once was, though he’s not far off. He also looks to facilitate on a more regular basis. When the Sixers are at their best, they are getting it done as a team in the truest sense.
So Harden’s main role is to be a fit alongside the likes of Embiid, Tobias Harris and others.
“He does a great job of evaluating the game,” Harris said. “Of where he can make plays, where he can take his shots. Tonight he got going. You could see the confidence in him of getting downhill first, and then the 3-ball opened it up for him.
“He sees so many defensive coverages out there. A lot of times they zone up the court as well, so sometimes it’s tough for him to be extremely aggressive on the offensive end. But when he’s in a groove like [Sunday night], we just get him the ball and keep it going.”
That is the Harden the 76ers wanted, and the Harden he was in Game 4. More of that type of Harden, and the 76ers may still advance yet.