James Harden raised the bar with a sterling performance in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinal series only to lower it considerably over the next two games.
Harden will look to quiet the critics in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon when the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers host the second-seeded Boston Celtics. The Celtics hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Harden answered a 45-point performance in Philadelphia’s 119-115 victory versus Boston in Game 1 by struggling mightily over the past two games. The former NBA MVP and three-time scoring champion has made just 5 of 28 shots from the floor, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range since Game 1.
Harden appeared to pass up scoring opportunities after struggling to locate his shot early in the game.
With Harden struggling, a clearly hobbled Embiid has been tasked with taking an even bigger role for Philadelphia. The newly minted NBA MVP returned from a series-opening absence due to a knee injury to score 15 points in Game 2 and total 30 points and 13 rebounds on Friday.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum rebounded from a seven-point performance in Game 2 by collecting 27 points and 10 rebounds on Friday.
Brown tallied 23 points and seven rebounds on Friday, and Al Horford sank five 3-pointers while finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. Marcus Smart and Brogdon each had 15 points and Derrick White added 13 for the Celtics.