James Harden Says 76ers Will 'Take Care of Business' and Win vs. Heat in Philly

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up prior to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on May 04, 2022 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. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

James Harden doesn't seem particularly worried about the Philadelphia 76ers' two-game deficit against the Miami Heat.

Harden expressed confidence that the Sixers will head back to Philadelphia and take the next two games after Wednesday's 119-103 loss in Miami.

“For the most part, we are still a confident group and we’ll go home and do what we’re supposed to do,” Harden told reporters. “In the playoffs, the series doesn’t start until the road team wins. We didn’t get one of the first two, but we’ll go home and take care of business and be back for Game 5.”

For the Sixers to actually crawl out of their 0-2 hole, they're going to need a lot better from Harden. The 2018 MVP has been wildly disappointing over the first two games, averaging just 18.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 39.3 percent from the floor.

Those who hoped Harden would take on a more aggressive scoring role with Joel Embiid out of the lineup have been let down. Harden has looked two steps slow, unable to create separation on drives to the hole and equally shaky on three-point attempts.

"They did a really good job of putting two on the ball and trying to deny me basically the entire court, so it was giving our guys more space to be aggressive if they're going to deny me wherever I am on the court," Harden told reporters.

"Give them credit. But I feel like, if we make shots, and I keep saying that, but it opens up the floor a little bit more, and you have to respect our shooters now."

Embiid could return from a concussion and fractured orbital bone last Thursday as soon as Game 3 on Friday, but Sixers coach Doc Rivers was noncommittal about the MVP candidate's status. 

Even if Embiid is in the lineup, he'll be at less than 100 percent. He was already dealing with a torn ligament in his right thumb before his eye injury, which will require him to play with a mask when and if he does return.