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James Harden slapped with harsh reality from Charles Barkley after Sixers blowout vs. Nets

James Harden Charles Barkley Sixers 76ers

The grudge match between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets was much less exciting than many had hoped. It certainly was far from the dream scenario for James Harden, as the Sixers fell, 129-100.

Charles Barkley didn’t mince words during the TNT halftime show as the Sixers were down 21 at the break. He expressed his concern over James Harden.

“I tell you what’s starting to scare me – James Harden. Listen, he’s had a reputation for fading in big games. He’s done nothing tonight to make us forget that,” said Charles Barkley on the Sixers guard.

At the half, James Harden had 11 points on a brutal 3-for-15 shooting clip. He didn’t fare much better in the second half as the Sixers star went scoreless and missed his only two attempts in the third quarter before being yanked out of the lopsided affair for good.

Ask James Harden himself and he doesn’t feel too discouraged by the defeat. The Sixers guard said:

“Tonight was good for us, man,” said the Sixers star. “We got our ass kicked. And since I’ve been here, everything has been sweet and we’ve been winning games. And so tonight was good for us and we get an opportunity to come down to reality, watch film and continue to get better.”

The loss was certainly a huge downer for Sixers fans hoping to gain some catharsis after the overly long Ben Simmons saga. But at the end of the day, it’s only one game. The Sixers still hold a significant edge in the standings as they’re currently within earshot of the number one seed while Kevin Durant and the Nets are several games back from a guaranteed playoff spot and likely have to make their way out of the play-in tournament.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the two end up matching up in the first round of the playoffs. Only then will we find out if James Harden is ready to shut up his critics.

However, just as Charles Barkley stated, James Harden hasn’t exactly had a well-documented history of stepping up in big games. The Sixers’ lead guard has had a significantly lower field goal and three-point percentage in the postseason compared to his career averages. While his numbers have been slightly better over the past couple of trips, he hasn’t been the playoff series-shifting superstar that most would expect him to be as a former MVP and one of the NBA’s greatest scorers ever.

Now on a team featuring MVP candidate Joel Embiid, the pressure won’t primarily be on James Harden as defenses game plan for the 7-foot behemoth in the paint. The Beard will have an ideal situation to have the ball in his hands while not being the primary offensive weapon the opposing team is thinking about. If that’s not enough to enable James Harden to thrive in the coming postseason, with the chase for his first ring being the ultimate prize, then the narrative on him starts to get near impossible to erase.