The Philadelphia 76ers are preparing for game two of their second-round series with the Miami Heat. The Sixers dropped game one of the series on Monday night 106-92, after being outscored in the second half 56-41.
The Sixers will try to bounce back in game two after struggling without Joel Embiid in game one. Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers said the team will again start DeAndre Jordan at center in game two despite struggling when he was on the floor in game one.
Jordan wasn’t the only Sixer that struggled as James Harden scored just 16 points on 5-13 shooting and 2-7 from three. Harden also only had 5 assists and turned the ball over 5 times.
A Big Decision
Harden’s struggles this postseason have drawn massive criticism from the media and Sixers fans alike. With Embiid out the expectation has been that Harden needs to step up, but he failed to do so in game one.
With Harden’s struggles this postseason the Sixers will have a big decision to make on his contract this offseason. Harden has a $46.8 million option for the 2022-23 season that he’ll likely opt into, but the speculation is he’ll expect a supermax extension after that.
Recently ESPN’s Brian Windhorst discussed if the Sixers should give Harden that type of contract.
“That is sitting in the lap of ownership and Josh Harris,” said Windhorst on ESPN’s Get Up. “That is going to be his decision. I will tell you this, as I talk to league executives, they say to me if James Harden was in the middle of a $100 million contract like if he had two years left, they would be worried about that. The concept of him looking like this at the start of a $200 million/$250 million contract is unthinkable and we know Daryl Morey is heavily invested in him, but it’s ownership that’s gotta sign off on it. The issue is when they made this trade, they knew they were not trading for James Harden. They were trading for James Harden and the right to pay him that. They mortgaged their depth and their future to do so and they’re pinning themselves in the corner with it.”
It will certainly be a big decision for the Sixers to make on Harden’s future. Ultimately what shapes that decision could be how Harden plays for the rest of the playoffs.
Crucial Game Two
The Sixers will again be without Embiid in game two and the rest of the Sixers will have to step up. Ultimately a lot of that pressure falls on Harden as he has the ball in his hands so much.
If ever there were a time for the Houston Rockets version of Harden to show up it’s in game two. If Harden can attack and get to the rim the way he used to, then it will open up opportunities for other players like Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris.
Ultimately it isn’t just on Harden to step up, but if he does then it’ll make things easier on the rest of the team. If the Sixers are going to make this a series Harden will have to play his best.