James Harden Elevates 76ers to 'Finals Threat' with Standout Game 4 vs. Heat

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 9, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 08: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game Four of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on May 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Heat 99-79. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It looked as if the Miami Heat were going to cruise to the Eastern Conference Finals when they won the first two games of their second-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers by double digits.

Not so much anymore.

With Joel Embiid back on the floor for the second straight contest, the 76ers evened the series at two apiece with a 116-108 victory in Sunday's Game 4. While Embiid's return from an orbital fracture helped swing the series, the MVP version of James Harden that was on display as he stuffed the stat sheet with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds makes the 76ers a "Finals threat."

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

James Harden looking so much more like himself as a scorer today. Sixers are a Finals threat if he keeps this up cause the playmaking has still been at a high level

Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith

Now this is the <a href="https://twitter.com/JHarden13?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JHarden13</a> we’ve been waiting for. Especially the <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a>’ fans. This is what we were talking about. Harden is making contested shots, he’s being aggressive and looking for this. This is the <a href="https://twitter.com/JHarden13?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JHarden13</a> that can help them to the Finals.

Shea Serrano @SheaSerrano

harden starting to look like harden is bad news for everyone else

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

James Harden has arrived ‼️ <a href="https://t.co/u7qupTlFa1">pic.twitter.com/u7qupTlFa1</a>


HARDEN IS ON ONE RIGHT NOW 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/Ph5yanTNom">pic.twitter.com/Ph5yanTNom</a>

andre @andre

Mr. Harden silencing them critics….

Festus Ezeli @FestusEzeli

Y’all talk about James Harden like he’s washed. He’s showing tonight he’s got a lot left in the tank

nick wright @getnickwright

Take this for what you will, but it is not an exaggeration to say this is one of the best high leverage playoff 4th quarters of James Harden’s entire career.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

HARDEN FROM DEEP 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/KsWI9L8CLP">pic.twitter.com/KsWI9L8CLP</a>

Jared Wade @Jared_Wade

The rumors of James Harden's death have been greatly exaggerated

Colleen Wolfe @ColleenWolfe

Somebody wake him up and tell him about James Harden <a href="https://t.co/zBsI6loFQU">pic.twitter.com/zBsI6loFQU</a>

Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria

Playoff victories this year:<br><br>Embiid/Harden - 6<br>KD/Kyrie - 0 <a href="https://t.co/6BAr4QCXPc">https://t.co/6BAr4QCXPc</a>


Harden is in his BAG 🎒 <a href="https://t.co/MysXfT4LTV">pic.twitter.com/MysXfT4LTV</a>

Harden started the game as a facilitator who was able to get to the free-throw line, but he took over right as it seemed as if the Heat would make a late charge.

The Beard made four three-pointers in the final 10 minutes while mixing in some vintage step-backs to keep Miami at bay. It was necessary because Jimmy Butler was doing everything he could to overcome the Heat's putrid 7-of-35 mark from downtown on his way to 40 points.

Will Gottlieb @wontgottlieb

Jimmy right now <a href="https://t.co/clawJrKHgy">pic.twitter.com/clawJrKHgy</a>

Nick Friedell @NickFriedell

Looking more and more like Bubble Jimmy out there right now.

Embiid is still the MVP candidate from this season and played well in Game 4, but Philadelphia needs another game-changer if it is going to eliminate the top-seeded Heat.

If Game 4 Harden shows up for Tuesday's Game 5, Miami may be in trouble.