The Philadelphia 76ers made this season championship-or-bust when they landed James Harden in the trade that sent Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.
Harden must have missed the memo.
Philadelphia's season went up in smoke Thursday with a 99-90 home loss to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series. While Joel Embiid shot just 7-of-24 from the field while playing with a torn thumb ligament and a mask because of an orbital fracture, it was Harden who drew the fans' ire.
The 10-time All-Star and 2017-18 MVP is supposed to be the type of franchise playmaker who can elevate his game when Danny Green was lost to a knee injury and Embiid was battling through multiple ailments, but he attempted a mere two shots in the entire second half, was lackadaisical on defense and didn't seem to have much interest in moving away from the ball:
Jared Wade @Jared_Wade
James Harden, even at his peak, appears to play with the urgency of a man filing a tax return. It's mostly just his demeanor, but it's easy to see why people question his passion for this. Embiid is in shambles and he is just shuffling around the court as the season slips away.
That a clearly limited Embiid was diving on the ground and playing to the level of exhaustion only exacerbated the reaction to Harden.
Max Strus (20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) and Jimmy Butler (32 points and eight boards) led the way on the other side for the Heat, who will face the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.