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James Harden ready to take over as big boss

Already limited by a ligament rupture in the hand, Joel Embiid is well and truly unavailable for the first two games to come against Miami, after a nasty blow to the face and a fracture very close to the left eye in the first round against the Raptors.

Without their potential MVP, the Sixers therefore arrive more than ever as outsiders against the No. 1 in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat, in the conference semi-finals.

“I have to be more aggressive”

Because, if the two formations left back to back in the regular season, with two victories each, the situation is completely different for this duel of playoffs. On the Heat side also, with a notable absentee, Kyle Lowry, and several others still “undecided” like Tyler Herro, Markieff Morris and even Jimmy Butler.

For Philadelphia, regardless of the state of the forces present, we must continue to move forward. As during the season with the episodes of Covid, “next man up” as we hear so often on the NBA circuit.

“We arrive in this series without having changed our objectives and our ways of doing things. We will be ready to play”announced Doc Rivers in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To do this, Philly will rely on James Harden, his big rookie of the season came to replace Ben Simmons. Triple top scorer in the League and MVP in 2018, James Harden has the opportunity to restore his image in a central role in the playoffs.

Slowed down by his left thigh injury, the bearded man finished with his career-low 41% and 33% 3-point percentages this year, shared between Brooklyn and Philly. Against the Heat, he wants to prove that he is still one of the best players of his generation.

“I have to be more aggressive”, confirmed James Harden. “That’s what I did in the past. I’m used to this role and I’m comfortable with it. I’m just going to take what the defense gives me by being aggressive and making the right decisions. More spaces, more attacks towards the circle. And we will play freely with the maximum of collective confidence. »

“I sacrifice myself. I am a team player first and foremost”

Opposite, the Heat will meanwhile intend to extinguish James Harden as soon as possible in the series. There is no doubt that Erik Spoelstra’s staff will have prepared a shock treatment for the former Rockets, in the vein of what they reserved for Trae Young in the first round (15 points on average at 32% at shots on the series)…

“They can do whatever they want. We will be ready. That’s really what I think about it.” send Doc Rivers. “They’re going to try to push us around and all that fake tough stuff. I’m still fed up with this so-called harshness. We’re just on a basketball court, if you know what I mean. But we’ll be ready for it all. »

With the expected return of Jimmy Butler, plus that of Tyler Herro on his stint off the bench, the Heat should find their colors offensively. But nothing to worry too much about James Harden and his Sixers, who will find the very useful defensive services of Matisse Thybulle, without vaccination restrictions in Florida.

“Everything they do in attack, they have to work for it,” assures James Harden. “They will have to run over us. The positions taken at the low post on the transition, the small errors, the open shots for the shooters… If we manage to limit that and take away these possibilities, we will have a good chance of winning. »

Without the inside pull that is Joel Embiid, the Sixers are sure to lean towards a more up-tempo, outward-looking style with the incredible Tyrese Maxey moped. A style of play that could wear out a Heat, more accustomed to playing on half-courts.

For James Harden in any case, it will above all be a question of setting the tone in aggressiveness. Without Joel Embiid, he is the undisputed leader of his team. The ideal scenario for redemption?

“At this stage, you have to make the sacrifices to win the games. I have already given in the scoring. When I score 30 points or more and we lose, people find something to complain about. When I score 19 points and we win, it’s something else again. At this point, you just have to do whatever you can to win. I sacrifice myself. I am a team player first and foremost. Joel is injured. I have to be more aggressive and score, go to the circle and make good decisions. It’s what I’m used to in the end. »

James Harden Percentage Bounces
Season Team GM Minimum Shots 3 points LF Off Def Early pd party Int bp CT Points
2009-10 OKAY 76 23 40.3 37.5 80.8 0.6 2.6 3.2 1.8 2.6 1.1 1.4 0.3 9.9
2010-11 OKAY 82 27 43.6 34.9 84.3 0.5 2.6 3.1 2.2 2.5 1.1 1.3 0.3 12.2
2011-12 OKAY 62 31 49.1 39.0 84.6 0.5 3.6 4.1 3.7 2.4 1.0 2.2 0.2 16.8
2012-13 HOO 78 38 43.8 36.8 85.1 0.8 4.1 4.9 5.8 2.3 1.8 3.8 0.5 25.9
2013-14 HOO 73 38 45.6 36.6 86.6 0.8 3.9 4.7 6.1 2.4 1.6 3.6 0.4 25.4
2014-15 HOO 81 37 44.0 37.5 86.8 0.9 4.7 5.7 7.0 2.6 1.9 4.0 0.7 27.4
2015-16 HOO 82 38 43.9 35.9 86.0 0.8 5.3 6.1 7.5 2.8 1.7 4.6 0.6 29.0
2016-17 HOO 81 36 44.0 34.7 84.7 1.2 7.0 8.1 11.2 2.7 1.5 5.7 0.5 29.1
2017-18 HOO 72 35 44.9 36.7 85.8 0.6 4.8 5.4 8.8 2.4 1.8 4.4 0.7 30.4
2018-19 HOO 78 37 44.2 36.8 87.9 0.9 5.8 6.6 7.5 3.1 2.0 5.0 0.7 36.1
2019-20 HOO 68 37 44.4 35.5 86.5 1.0 5.5 6.6 7.5 3.3 1.8 4.5 0.9 34.3
2020-21 * All Teams 44 37 46.6 36.2 86.1 0.8 7.1 7.9 10.8 2.3 1.2 4.0 0.8 24.6
2020-21 * BRK 36 37 47.1 36.6 85.6 0.8 7.7 8.5 10.9 2.4 1.3 4.0 0.8 24.6
2020-21 * HOO 8 36 44.4 34.7 88.3 0.6 4.5 5.1 10.4 1.8 0.9 4.3 0.8 24.8
2021-22 * All Teams 65 37 41.0 33.0 87.7 0.9 6.9 7.7 10.3 2.4 1.3 4.4 0.6 22.0
2021-22 * BRK 44 37 41.4 33.2 86.9 1.0 7.0 8.0 10.2 2.4 1.3 4.8 0.7 22.5
2021-22 * PHL 21 38 40.2 32.6 89.2 0.6 6.5 7.1 10.5 2.3 1.2 3.4 0.2 21.1
Total 942 35 44.2 36.1 86.0 0.8 4.8 5.6 6.8 2.6 1.5 3.8 0.5 24.9

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