The Philadelphia 76ers have already clinched a playoff berth and are sitting in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers are jockeying for position at the top of the East, sitting 2.5 games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat while tied with the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and a half-game back of the No. 2 Boston Celtics.

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Philadelphia has championship aspirations after trading for James Harden and will look to go into the playoffs on a high note as the 2021-22 regular season comes to a close with games against the Indiana Pacers twice, Toronto Raptors, and Detroit Pistons. The Sixers are hoping that Harden in particular will find a groove after some up-and-down performances with his new team.

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Sixers must rely on James Harden

Without a doubt, Joel Embiid has been putting up MVP-type numbers for the Sixers through the course of this season. In fact, he just tallied 44 points and 17 rebounds in their most recent outing against the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 112-108 victory. At this point, it almost seems automatic for Embiid to find a way to have big scoring nights for his team on a regular basis.

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However, aside from the production of their star big man, the Sixers also need James Harden to step up and have more assertiveness on the floor. Through the years, he has shown that he can play consistently at a high level, especially during the regular season. Based on his recent performances, it is safe to say that Harden can definitely play better and be more in command in terms of being a scorer.

In their previous games, the 10-time All-Star has gone cold as he struggles to make most of his shots from the field, causing the Sixers to lose winnable contests against the Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and, most especially, the lowly Detroit Pistons. He can still put up 30-point games, but his shooting efficiency has been poor and he often relies on a large amount of free throws to rack up big scoring outputs.

Harden is shooting just 40.7% overall and 33.9% from 3-point range since coming over to Philly. He’s also taking just 13.8 shots per game, his lowest amount since he became a Houston Rocket about a decade ago. While he is taking 9.6 free throws per game, Doc Rivers would like to see his new star be more aggressive as a scorer. Harden has clearly lost some explosiveness and ability to finish baskets thanks to injuries and aging, but he can still be better and, quite honestly, must be better.

Realistically speaking, having too much of one-dimensional offense that relies so heavily on Embiid won’t be sustainable against tough opponents in the playoffs. At some point, opposing teams will find a way to slow down Embiid, so they need Harden to make an even bigger impact in order for them to play a more dynamic brand of basketball in their upcoming games.

Yes, Embiid may be the main man of the team, but Harden also has a major role to play finishing out the season and heading into the playoffs. If the former MVP can’t find a way to play like his old self and regain his rhythm, it will be hard for the 76ers to win their remaining games in the regular season and eventually make a deep run to the NBA Finals.