James Harden Says 76ers 'Getting More Confident' as Heat Series Goes On

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 9, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 8: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 8, 2022 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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

The Philadelphia 76ers have momentum in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Miami Heat following two straight victories.

With momentum comes confidence.

"We are getting more confident as the series goes on," James Harden told reporters after he turned in a vintage performance while helping lead his team to a 116-108 victory in Sunday's Game 4 to even the series at two apiece.

Harden should have confidence after he finished with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds behind 6-of-10 shooting from three-point range. Four of those triples came in the final 10 minutes and helped stave off a final push from Jimmy Butler and the Heat.

Butler countered with 40 points and six assists, but the visitors were unable to overcome their 7-of-35 (20 percent) shooting mark from three-point range. It also didn't help that Kyle Lowry was dealing with a hamstring injury and was 0-of-6 from deep.

As with almost any series that is tied through four games, both teams could find reasons for optimism.

Miami has not lost at home yet in the playoffs and could win the series by continuing that pattern with Games 5 and 7 in FTX Arena. Philadelphia has not lost in this series with Joel Embiid on the floor after he missed the first two contests with an orbital fracture.

The version of Harden who took over in crunch time Sunday would also be a game-changer for the 76ers.

Not only would it give them another MVP-caliber player who can deliver in the biggest moments, it would also take some of the pressure off Embiid when the Heat throw double teams his direction. They could only do that so much if Harden is cooking like he did in Game 4, which would create a pick-your-poison situation for the rest of the series.

Confidence may be key if Harden is going to continue rolling, and he has it after Sunday's showing.