The Philadelphia 76ers were needing another win on Sunday as they entered Game 4 against the Miami Heat.
Just days before, they were in a 2-0 hole against the Heat and were facing elimination by the weekend’s end.
They secured a massive win on Friday night but they needed yet another on Sunday in order to keep their hopes of making it out of the second round alive.
To do that, they needed everyone on their team to step up – including James Harden.
Now this is the @JHarden13 we’ve been waiting for. Especially the @sixers’ fans. This is what we were talking about. Harden is making contested shots, he’s being aggressive and looking for this. This is the @JHarden13 that can help them to the Finals.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 9, 2022
That is exactly what happened on Sunday, as Harden came to life with 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists.
As Stephen A. Smith noted, this was the version of Harden that Sixers fans were waiting for.
He was making contested shots and was aggressive and full of energy and drive.
“This is the @JHarden13 that can help them to the Finals,” Smith said.
Is he right?
Harden Going Hard
It’s been a long, long time since Harden played as he did on Sunday.
He joined the 76ers back in February but rarely showed glimpses of his former self.
Harden hadn’t scored more than 25 points since the end of March.
At times, he hardly even broke ten points.
Sunday’s performance fell just one point shy of his biggest showing with Philadelphia (which was 32 points on March 29).
But Harden’s big game was about more than points.
He seemed to be tuned in and fired up.
After making tough shots, Harden shouted to the rafters and move with authority and urgency.
This was the version of Harden that won the NBA MVP trophy back in 2017-18.
Some people said that Harden turned back the clock on Sunday night.
He will need to keep it turned back if the 76ers hope to make the Eastern Conference Finals.