James Harden in five-star mode: 31 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists

The Sixers just tied their streak with a second home win over the Heat. Doc Rivers’ troop did the job by being solid in shooting but, above all, James Harden released the big game that was needed. Well… he almost kept us waiting.

It’s never too late to close mouths and we know a boy who did this mission magnificently last night. Her name ? James Harden. Forced to win on pain of ending up with their backs to the wall, the Sixers prayed with both hands for a masterclass from their second superstar. Verdict? 31 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists for the Barbu and a capital victory for Philly. It is very clearly his best game during these Playoffs, and most certainly his best since he landed in Philadelphia last February.. However, we can’t say that Harden had gone off on a whirlwind: he didn’t score in the 1st quarter and even lost three balls. He heats up for the first time in the second act where he puts 13 pawns with two 3-point shots, including a step-back on the head of Jimmy Butler, and the Sixers return to the locker room leading 64-56. At this point, we waver between satisfaction and concern. The back of Philadelphia was very serious during this second quarter but we are afraid that he will fall back into his ways and that, as often in these Playoffs, he will disappear completely in the second half. Fortunately, that was obviously not the plan tonight.

Despite his discretion in the third quarter, James Harden cooked the Heat at the most important moment of the game. He takes out a sick money time by planting 11 points in the last six minutes (16 over the whole period) including three shots from the parking lot, bang bang bang. Opposite, the Miami players simply could not respond. Harden finished the game at 6/10 from a distance, almost as many 3-pointers as the entire Heat team combined (7/35…). It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Barbu so hot and frankly, it feels good. We expected a step-up in his Playoffs after not brilliant performances in the first round against the Raptors. He had not exceeded 22 points and his success percentages were frankly poor. Certainly, he was interesting in the creation but for a player of his caliber, it was still insufficient. Last night, we saw the James Harden we knew, the one who was the most feared attacker on the circuit and an MVP candidate each year. It only remains to hope that he remains in the same mood for the rest of the competition.

Harden released the big perf ‘it was necessary this night against Miami. Philly needed it, they had to avoid being down 3-1 at all costs before going to play Game 5 at the FTX Arena. The Sixers must be able to count on their two leaders if they want to win this series against a Heat who will surely want to react very quickly. The Barbu must continue its momentum of the evening.

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James Harden in five-star mode: 31 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists