James Harden struggled to carry the title-starved Philadelphia 76ers' offense last week in their pair of East semifinal losses to the Miami Heat. He shot just 11-of-28 from the floor for 36 points during Games 1 and 2, and had his streak of being held under 25 points in the playoffs extend to 13 games on Friday in Game 3. But the 32-year-old superstar finally flipped on the switch in Game 4 on Sunday, and helped bring new life to Philadelphia's championship hopes.
With a chance to even the series at two games apiece, Harden delivered his best performance in a 76ers uniform, as he scored a team-high 31 points on six-made threes with nine assists and seven rebounds in a 116-108 victory at Wells Fargo Center. Harden's surge was a sight for sore eyes in Philadelphia, and reaffirmed why they acquired him at the trade deadline and considered him the missing piece to their puzzle.
"One of the things that's made him the player that he's been throughout the course of his career is his ability to hit contested shots," SiriusXM NBA Radio host Brian Geltzeiler explained to The DA Show on Monday. "And I think what was distressing about the way he started the playoffs in Philadelphia was his lack of willingness to even take contested shots... Once shots started falling, you could see his confidence grow. He was enthusiastic, he was energetic.
"They needed every single bit of that to be able to tie this series against the Heat... Listen, I don't think they need James Harden to play like this to win a home game. I do think they're going to need him to put one of these up on the road to be able to win in Miami. It's not like they have to have Harden do this every game. They just need him to step up and give them a lift when it's going to be tough on the road. And I think he can do that."
Philadelphia, which clinched the East's fourth seed with a 51-31 overall record, will play Game 5 against Miami on Tuesday night (7:30 ET tipoff) at FTX Arena. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Sixers have a 51-percent chance to reach the Eastern Conference Finals and a 22-percent chance to make the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001. They haven't won a title since 1983.
The entire NBA conversation between Geltzeiler and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.