James Harden has his fair share of critics. The Philadelphia 76ers guard owns an MVP award, has made 10 All-Star Game appearances, and been named to seven All-NBA teams. But perhaps his stacked trophy case is what fuels the criticisms against his relatively poor playoff performances in the past.
Harden has seen his efficiency and overall production dip during postseason play. There have also been a handful of games critics point to wherein he was unable to step up when the moment called for him to. Ahead of the Sixers’ quest to come out of the East, the Beard spoke out about facing the pressures of another playoff run.
Via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:
“Pressure, no. I feel good,” Harden said with a smile after Thursday’s practice at the Sixers’ team facility. “I’m ready to hoop. There’s nothing to it.”
While the Sixers are favored entering their first-round series, James Harden may face a formidable challenge in the Toronto Raptors. Their length and switchability on defense could be a challenge for him amid his offensive struggles during the regular season.
“They just fly around,” Harden said ahead of the Sixers’ first-round matchup. “They play extremely hard. They kind of junk up the game. They have a lot of guys that are tall, athletic, long and solid defenders. They use their length very well, and they just have each other’s back. They run around, they scramble, and they fly around defensively, so for us we have to execute, making sure we’re crisp in our passes and if the shot’s available, take it.”
Joel Embiid will undoubtedly be the focal point for the Sixers. But to reach their peak, James Harden needs to play at the level he’s capable of doing with the spotlight on him.