James Harden’s postseason disappearing act is getting old

James Harden’s fall within the playoffs is a dependable annual development. Much like Punxsutawney Phil rising as an indication that spring has sprung, however with darker clouds within the forecast. For what looks as if a decade, Harden has disappeared into his shell as soon as he begins the best-of-seven portion of the schedule. If this seems like déjà vu, that is as a result of it’s. You may join a viafrom Harden’s absence within the 2012 NBA Finals to his lobotomy on the palms of the miami warmth in 2022.

If historical past is any indication, the belief is that Harden will go away anybody who helps him pissed off. Warning indicators of Harden morphing into playoff melanoma had been current within the ultimate weeks of the common season after his burst started to subside as he battled a sore Achilles tendon. Whether or not it is his washed-out Elvis health stage, his bodily ailment of the week, or simply the accelerated growing old of him, Harden is reliably unreliable as soon as he begins the postseason schedule.

The place did it go flawed?

the sixers can survive the sort of one-dimensional recreation Harden delivered in opposition to Brooklyn’s can’t-find-he-below-of-to-Internet lineups. He will not slide right into a second-round matchup.

In Sport 1, Harden could not end inside, punching simply 1 of 8 on 2-pointers and scoring 21 factors on 23 pictures.

“I could not make a layup,” Harden confessed afterward.

That is a worrisome signal for a virtuoso who had an unearthly capability to make defenses centered on him as the first possibility appear to be tourniquets.

In Sport 2, Harden raised the value of the brick, lacking on 10 of his 13 makes an attempt from the sphere, scoring simply eight factors. Fortuitously, Philadelphia’s protection pummeled Brooklyn within the second half, holding the Nets to 84 factors to mitigate Harden’s ineffectiveness.

Whereas extra beneficiant, Harden nonetheless improves the offense. Embiid would not want his pick-and-roll dance accomplice to plunge into the fountain of youth and ship MVP Harden’s greatest performances each night time, however it’s wonderful how far he is sunk. Particularly in gentle of the pay reduce he took final offseason in an effort to place himself for a supermax extension and capitalize on the NBA’s “over 36 rule,” getting ready for a ultimate long-term contract.

How far (and quick) have the mighty fallen

Two years in the past, Harden was touted as one of many smartest scorers of our technology. His bag of strikes left defenses so baffled that opposing gamers assumed their regular defensive stances with hands behind the back to keep away from sending it to the road.

This season, Harden had the fewest free throws per recreation since his rookie season. The postseason, when the umpires maintain their whistles, is the place Harden has tended to hit all-time low. In his final three playoff appearances, Harden has performed 117 straight minutes with out touring to the charity strip.

Main the networks 2-0 might seem to be an odd time to complain, however you are the loopy one to not care about Harden’s clock ticking. That is the collection the place Harden needs to be flourishing and going wherever on the court docket he desires. As an alternative, Mikal Bridges is bottling it up as a repressed emotion.

There’s an opportunity Harden will begin catching lightning in a bottle and ship a collection of career-defining performances, however I would not rely on it.

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