When James Harden went off for 45 points against the Boston Celtics in Game 1, the entire Philadelphia 76ers fanbase got excited. With Joel Embiid recovering from injury, Harden took it upon himself to lead the offense. The hope was that the former MVP would continue this torrid pace when Embiid returned. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Games 2 and 3 saw Harden miss 23 of his 28 shots combined, per ClutchPoints.
Things haven’t been the same for James Harden since he scored 45 points on 17-of-30 shooting in Game 1 vs. the Celtics
Can he get out of this shooting slump? pic.twitter.com/ywryefRbeD
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 6, 2023
Ever since Embiid’s return to the active roster, Harden is seemingly having a harder time getting into a shooting groove. Yes, the Sixers star is contributing in other ways (10 rebounds in Game 2, and 11 assists in Game 3). However, it’s clear that if Philly wants to win this contest, Harden needs to be more productive in scoring.
In Game 3 against the Celtics, Harden wasn’t the only guard that struggled for the Sixers. Tyrese Maxey is seemingly suffering from the same syndrome his backcourt mate is experiencing. The point guard scored just 13 points on 25% shooting from the field, a far cry from his 26-point Game 1 in Boston. Despite Embiid’s best efforts, Philly ended up losing Game 3 at home.
In a lot of ways, Game 4 will be a must-win game for Sixers. Another loss will give the Celtics a 3-1 advantage heading into Game 5 at the raucous TD Garden. A 3-1 lead isn’t insurmountable, but it’s obviously less than ideal. Taking Game 4 will give them much-needed momentum heading into a road game.
Can James Harden find a way to reignite his scoring spark with Joel Embiid? His playmaking is obviously amazing, but Embiid alone can’t handle the scoring load all by himself. Harden and Maxey need to step up big time at home to give them a fighting chance.
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