The playoff James Harden will be a tough card for the Sixers to deal with, ESPN’s Zach Lowe discusses the star’s failure in big stages.
James Harden is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of basketball. Some consider him even better than Michael Jordan at scoring, Philadelphia 76ers’ president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey is one of them.
As absurd as the MJ-Harden comparison is, the Beard is, without doubt, a machine on offense. He might not have the efficiency of his former teammate Kevin Durant, but he is as automatic at scoring as one can get.
But that machine gets worn out come Playoffs time. No Houston fan would disagree with that. Some of those Rockets teams with which James chocked in big moments were one of the best teams in the league, the ones with Chris Paul were certainly it.
Even Draymond Green believes those Rockets wouldn’t lose to any other team in the NBA if it weren’t for the Warriors. The Dubs always had “Hack a Shaq” kind of game plan for the 10-time All-Star, but the only change in the hack would be they wouldn’t foul Harden, they’d just let him wear out himself.
Zach Lowe, ESPN’s senior writer recently revisited the 2018 MVP’s Playoffs performances, analyzing him on the games that mattered the most.
“Postseason resume of James Harden is defined by meltdowns”: Zach Lowe
On his podcast The Lowe Post after talking about the Simmons-Harden trade, Zach came upon a subject that could be a huge matter of concern for the Sixers management and fans. A much talked about subject in the media during the Playoffs – the Playoffs Harden.
Lowe Post podcast: Annual instant recap of an absolutely wild trade deadline with @BobbyMarks42: Simmons/Harden, what’s next for both teams, every big and small move of the week, additional scuttlebutt, more:
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 11, 2022
He also talked about the 4th quarter Harden after remembering the guard’s last big shots in clutch moments came when he last played for OKC against the Spurs in 2012.
“The media is sometimes guilty of fixating on one or two moments of a player’s postseason career and forgetting all the good ones that came before it – that happened with Lebron before he won a championship. James Harden’s postseason resume is lacking, almost completely lacking, in big moments since he hit a shot in San Antonio in the 2012 conference finals when he played 4 teams ago, for OKC.” Lowe started.
He continued his criticism of the 3x scoring champ, “I did the deep dive. Harden’s 4th quarter numbers, in big games, in elimination games, in 2-2 series games, are bad. His crunch-time numbers are bad. Most of his best playoff games are when his team is up 3-0, down 3-0, up 3-1, down 3-1. I watched all of his field-goal attempts in the 4th quarters of his postseason career, a lot of his crunch time baskets are like “Oh GS is up 8, we’ll concede a layup so you don’t get a 3,” and Harden inflates his crunch time field goal % from zero to something better than zero with essentially a conceded layup.”
He also talked about the star’s abysmal efficiency in big games. In 7-games against the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, he shot under 25% from the 3-point line and under 42% from the field.
“Like right now, his postseason resume is justifiably defined by meltdowns – three 2-11 games!! The criticism of his postseason performance is not unfair, it’s not cherry-picking, it has been below his standard moreso than It has been for almost any other superstar in recent NBA history. It’s time. The time is now, this is it.” Lowe finished.
While Joel Embiid will and should be the Sixers’ main closer in most games, he will have to stay fit and in the best conditioning for the Playoffs. As we have seen on multiple occasions that Harden alone can blow a 3-1 series quite easily.