Did Joel Embiid call out James Harden for struggles in 76ers' Game 3 NBA Playoffs loss to Celtics?
Did Joel Embiid call out James Harden for struggles in 76ers' Game 3 NBA Playoffs loss to Celtics?
Did Joel Embiid call out James Harden after 76ers' Game 3 loss?

The Eastern Conference Semifinals have been a tale of two series for James Harden.

In Game 1, Harden showed flashes of his MVP form with 45 points (on 17-of-30 shooting) and a game-winning triple to lift the 76ers to a stunning win over the Celtics. In the two games since, Harden has scored a total of 28 points on a combined 5-of-28 (17.9 percent) shooting — both games resulting in losses for Philadelphia.

In Game 3, Harden was limited to 16 points while shooting 3-of-14 from the field, a disappointing showing on a night when teammate Joel Embiid received his MVP award in an emotional pregame ceremony. And while Embiid finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds, he did not receive nearly enough support from his teammates, something he lamented postgame.

"I think players have to show up," Embiid said when asked whether or not adjustments or improved play is more important. "I gotta do my job — other guys, everybody knows their role, they have to do their job. Players have to show up.

"Obviously, you can make any adjustments you want but if the players don't execute, and they don't show up and we don't make shots, then that's on us."

"Players have to show up. … If the players don't execute … we don't make shots, that's on us."

Joel Embiid after the Sixers' Game 3 loss pic.twitter.com/ptx8XnIaZS

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 6, 2023

Given Harden's struggles, it may seem as though Embiid's comments were directed at the former MVP. But Embiid also accepted blame for his play and hinted that a number of players can perform at a higher level.

Embiid was one of four Sixers to score in double-figures in Game 3, but the players he could receive more support from range from Harden to Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris. 

In addition to Harden's 3-of-14 shooting night, Maxey shot just 4-of-16 from the field while Harris attempted just six shots in 25 minutes of action, a product of foul trouble throughout the game.

Still, when looking at the box score, Harden's numbers jump off the page simply because of how well he began the series.

What could be the reason for Harden's struggles? It is worth noting that he and the Sixers had nine days to rest between Game 4 of the opening round and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Since then, they have played every other day. 

Historically, Harden has struggled with fatigue in the postseason, something that appears to be showing itself again this year. After Boston regained home court advantage with a victory in Game 3, Philadelphia faces essentially a must-win situation in Sunday's Game 4.

Embiid is Philly's leader, but as we've learned during these playoffs, the Sixers' potential relies on the supporting cast's ability to support their MVP.

What's your reaction?



0 comment

Write the first comment for this!

Facebook Conversations

Disqus Conversations