After the Miami Heat protected their home court in the first two games of the second-round series against the 76ers. Philadelphia responded by doing the same thing at their home court over games three and four. So with the series knotted at 2-2, the Sixers feel good about where they stand in the series.
James Harden said after the game four win, “We’re getting more confident as the series goes on,” I would say part of that is because Joel Embiid has returned to the lineup after missing the first two games. The runner-up for league MVP is a total gamechanger for the Sixers and is a big reason why the series is tied.
Harden also had his best performance of the playoffs in the game four win. He tallied 31 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. This was his first 30+ point game of the playoffs. Aside from Embiid, Harden must continue with this level of performance if the Sixers want to steal a game on the road and eventually win this series.
Harden mentioned, “I just took what the defense gave me… Same shots, just made some. Nothing really changed, man. I made some shots.” In the first three games, Harden shot 38% from the field and averaged 17.7 points per game. But in game four he shot 8-18 from the field and 6-10 from three.
Aggressive Harden is the best Harden for the Sixers. He needs to hunt for shots and make them at a high clip.
Philadelphia seems to be fully catching a rhythm thanks to the play of the aforementioned Harden and Embiid. But, let us not forget about Tyrese Maxey who had a breakout season of his own. Maxey is averaging 21.3 points and shooting 40.9% from three-point range during this series.
Overall, the Philadelphia 76ers will go as Joel Embiid goes. But, if they want to win an NBA championship, Embiid will need continued help from James Harden and Tyrese Maxey to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.