James Harden 'Exposed' in 76ers' Game 1 Loss to Jimmy Butler, Heat with Embiid Out

Doric SamMay 3, 2022

MIAMI, FL - MAY 2: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball against the Miami Heat during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 2, 2022 at The FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

While star center Joel Embiid sat out because of an orbital fracture and concussion, the Philadelphia 76ers needed James Harden to play like the former NBA MVP he is in Monday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Harden didn't come close to his prime form as he put forth a lackluster performance in a 106-92 loss at FTX Arena. Harden scored 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds, five assists and five turnovers. It had already been expected that the Sixers would face an uphill battle against the top-seeded Heat, but Philadelphia has no chance in the series if Harden continues to play like this.

Naturally, fans on social media called out Harden for his quiet night.

Jared Wade @Jared_Wade

James Harden getting exposed as a fraud on national TV? Well, I never

Dan Pfeiffer @danpfeiffer

James Harden isn’t exactly stepping up in Embiid’s absence

David Lang @Dukielang

James Harden is so unpleasant to watch. His game is so boring

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Sixers need more from James Harden. A lot more.

Ethan J. Skolnick, 5 Reasons Sports @EthanJSkolnick

James Harden has as many turnovers as field goals: 5<br><br>Tyler Herro has 9 field goals and no turnovers <a href="https://twitter.com/5ReasonsSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@5ReasonsSports</a>

Eliot Shorr-Parks @EliotShorrParks

Really seems like Harden hasn't gotten a single bounce to go his way on 3s since he got to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sixers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sixers</a>

Eliot Shorr-Parks @EliotShorrParks

Most disappointing part of tonight for the Sixers has to be James Harden. The Heat look very beatable. They will have a chance on Embiid is back. But once again Harden has not looked any better in a spot the team really needed him to be. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sixers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sixers</a>

Robin Lundberg @robinlundberg

James Harden once scored 30 or more in 32 straight games. Seeing him score 30 would be shocking nowadays.

Joe Fann @Joe_Fann

James Harden with a Game 1 stat line of 16-9-5 on 5-13 shooting. That’s abysmal. Period. What happened to him?

Five Reasons Sports @5ReasonsSports

The Sixers would have been better off with CJ McCollum

As Harden struggled, his Sixers teammates weren't that much better. Tobias Harris scored 27 points and Tyrese Maxey added 19, but they were the only bright spots. Philadelphia shot just 6-of-34 (17.6 percent) from three-point range against a staunch Miami defense.

But despite impressively locking up the Sixers, the Heat shot just 43.5 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc. Some fans were disappointed that Philadelphia wasted a chance to steal a road win thanks to its own subpar shooting.

Andrew Unterberger @AUgetoffmygold

Boy this stinks. Sixers did so many things well in the first half and just went away from all of 'em in the second. Shooting 16% from three certainly isn't gonna help but feels like a lot of the mistakes made tonight were avoidable and/or Doc-induced. Game 2 still very winnable.

Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA

Second half (so far):<br>Miami: 46<br>Sixers: 26

Spike Eskin @SpikeEskin

Sixers are exactly one Joel Embiid from being in this thing.

John Clark @JClarkNBCS

Sixers with 14 turnovers that have turned into 19 points for Miami<br><br>Heat with 15 offensive rebounds<br><br>So even though the Sixers are shooting 46%, better than the heat, the heat have 15 extra shots <a href="https://t.co/Xo6BSqUf6F">pic.twitter.com/Xo6BSqUf6F</a>

Bryan Toporek @btoporek

The Heat have 15 offensive rebounds. The Sixers have 6.<br><br>Add the terrible 3-point shooting and the terrible DJ minutes, and that’s the game.

The Sixers are optimistic that Embiid could return as soon as Game 3 or 4 when the series heads back to Philadelphia, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The team has to hold on to that hope because it cannot depend on Harden to lead the way to victory. Regardless of his history of postseason woes, Harden has not displayed the dominance we've grown accustomed to seeing from him at all this season, and he can no longer be counted on as a consistent lead option.

On the other side, Jimmy Butler (15 points and nine rebounds), Tyler Herro (25 points and seven assists) and Bam Adebayo (24 points and 12 rebounds) led the way for the Heat.