The Philadelphia 76ers desperately needed a star, and they got one.
James Harden stepped up big time in a huge Game 1 road win without Joel Embiid, having a throwback performance to remind everyone in the league that he’s still an all-time great.
Harden has always been a polarizing player, especially in the playoffs, but even his biggest hater had to admit that he had a performance for the ages on Monday.
These #NBAPlayoffs are more important to @JHarden13 legacy than anyone else. @sixers in 6️⃣. https://t.co/apuGW9BuQP
— $ir Auda¢ity 🦛 (@JoMarcusCrum) May 2, 2023
This is the first time the Sixers have been up in a playoff series against Boston since 1982.
— Cody (@TheReelCodester) May 2, 2023
Harrison Barnes spotted, doesn’t count
— ۟ (@Mosterati) May 2, 2023
They let old man Harden give them 45??? 😂 https://t.co/Bn1Vv61CMf
— Dereck Effect (@Sypher316) May 2, 2023
James Harden https://t.co/QxqgGkP2f0
— Corey (@CJsucitymvp) May 2, 2023
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Harden had the longest span between 45-point games in the playoffs (7 years and 341 days), which is a testament to his longevity in this league.
For the past three years or so, Harden has embraced a different offensive role while serving more as a facilitator next to another ball-dominant scorer.
It seems like it was ages ago when he was putting up 40+ every single night and routinely leading the Houston Rockets to the playoffs.
Harden’s style isn’t for everybody, and it can be frustrating to watch at times.
But he had one of the most impressive scoring runs this game has ever seen, and bending the rules is also a part of the game.
Even if he never wins a ring — which has always been the knock on him — Harden should be considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer once it’s all said and done.
So, he made sure to show up when his team needed him the most in a crucial playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
This should serve as a loud reminder to everyone that had forgotten about his elite scoring prowess.NEXT: NBA Insider Reveals Joel Embiid's Status For Game 2