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James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the 2022 NBA playoffs with a 99-90 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of their second-round series Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Harden had his worst performance of the postseason in Game 6, having attempted just two shots through the entire second half and finishing with 11 points, four rebounds and nine assists.
After the loss, Harden was asked about his lack of attempts in the second half and why he wasn’t more aggressive. His response probably won’t be received well by Sixers fans.
“We run our offense,” Harden told reporters. “The ball just didn’t get back to me.”
The 76ers acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline in hopes he would help lead the team past the second round for the first time since 2001. However, he didn’t play particularly well throughout the postseason.
Entering Thursday’s game, Harden was averaging 19.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists through 11 playoff games.
For comparison, the three-time scoring champion averaged 23.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists through his playoff career before joining the Sixers.
Harden’s rocky 2022 postseason performance has raised questions about the 76ers signing him to a long-term deal. The 32-year-old has a $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season and is eligible to sign a five-year, $270 million max deal with the franchise this summer.
That said, The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported earlier this month that the Sixers believed Harden would be open to taking less money to remain in Philadelphia. He was asked if that was the case after Thursday’s loss.
“Whatever it takes to help this team continue to grow,” Harden told reporters. He was also asked if he would opt-in and responded, “I’ll be here.”
The Sixers are going to need a much better effort out of Harden next season, especially with Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level and Tyrese Maxey emerging as one of the franchise’s key young pieces.
If Harden opts-in and doesn’t play better next year, it’s hard to imagine the Sixers will sign him to a max extension. That said, those discussions will likely begin now and continue into next year.