After dropping game 4 over the weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers were back on their home floor with a chance to put away the Toronto Raptors for good. Despite taking a commanding 3-0 at one point, things appear to be far from over between these two teams.
When the Sixers and Raptors first matched up, many felt it was a series that could go either way. Through five games now, we are starting to see why. Thanks to a collective effort, the Raptors have won two-straight games and forced a Game 6 in Toronto.
One player catching a lot of heat after the Game 5 loss is James Harden. The All-Star guard shot an abysmal 36.4% from the field and committed five turnovers. Sixers fans were not shy to voice their displeasures with Harden during the rough showing.
Father Time Catching Up To Harden
Back in his Houston days, James Harden was one of the most feared offensive talents in the league. Between his quickness and elite ballhandling, he was a nightmare for opposing defenses. At this stage of his career, it’s fair to say he’s lost a step.
While he is still a high-level player, Harden needs to adapt his offensive game at times. Gone are the days when he could blow by defenders and draw fouls at will. Now that defenders are able to stick with him, it’s become harder for Harden to get himself to the free-throw line.
On a night where the Sixers could end things on their home court, Harden was unable to deliver a performance needed to help lift his team to round two. Fans did not hold back on how they feel about Harden’s game thus far in the playoffs.
Poor Play Could Alter Future Decisions
The Sixers took a huge risk when they traded for Harden. In more ways than one. On top of sacrificing multiple key players to acquire him, they are on the hook to pay him. Depending on what he does with his player option, Harden could become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Given the nature of the business now, a player like Harden will still warrant a max contract. Meaning the Sixers would be paying him north of $50 million a year in his late thirties. Based on what they’ve seen so far, it begs the question if Daryl Morey should be rushing to invest that kind of money in Harden.
In the NBA, star talent is needed to be a finals contender. The main reason why Morey pushed for this mega-deal was to bring him a legitimate second option next to Joel Embiid as he enters his prime. While the pair of All-Stars have shown some nice flashes, Harden’s latest playoff blunder might be a cause to re-consider a big commitment this upcoming offseason.
If it were up to Sixers fans, they would not be offering a max contract in free agency.
The Sixers pushed all-in to make a run at the NBA title this season and for years to come. Joel Embiid has proven to be a top-five player on the planet, but Harden’s up-and-down games raise questions for Philly long-term. While he still has time to turn things around, it could be an interesting offseason when it comes time for extension talks.