James Harden picked the perfect time to finish a playoff game with his third 20-point and 10+ assist game in his career.
The 76ers were reeling coming into a pivotal Game 6 after losing two straight games, allowing the Raptors to take all the momentum going into Jurassic Park while they were down 3-2. All the pressure was on the 76ers; outside voices were ready to fuss and complain about Harden being unable to close out games. They were prepared to eviscerate Coach Doc Rivers for becoming the first coach to lose a 3-0 series lead.
In response, Harden set the tone with his 22 points, six rebounds, and 15 assists. Joel Embiid followed suit with a 33-point and 10 rebounds double-double.
“We had opportunities last few games to put them away and we just didn’t,” Harden said. “So I wanted to come out and be aggressive. Not just scoring (the) basketball, but making the right plays, and getting into the paint. I knew good things would happen.”
The 76ers put the game away in the third quarter after scoring on their first eight trips down the court, opening up a 13-point lead. Philly eventually stretched their run out to 30-9, capped off by a Harden step-back triple that gave the Sixers a 92-70 lead.
When it was all said and done, Philly left Toronto with a 132-97 win and a date with Miami in the second round. Game 1 will be on Monday.
“We weren’t going back to Philly for a Game 7,” Harden said.