James Harden Said ‘The Ball Just Didn’t Get Back To Me’ After Taking Just Two Second Half Shots In Game 6

The 2021-22 season is over for the Philadelphia 76ers after a Game 6 home loss to the Miami Heat that was not as close as the final score of 99-90 might indicate. By the end of the series, Joel Embiid was clearly limited and Philadelphia was not operating at an optimal level, but plenty of attention was also paid to the passive nature of James Harden’s performance in an elimination game. Harden took only nine shots from the floor and no free throw attempts in the game, scoring 11 points in total, and he was notably absent from the offense in the second half, attempting only two shots and going scoreless in 23 minutes of action.

After the game, Harden was prompted on this interesting development and he responded by noting that “the ball just didn’t get back to (him)” in the second half.

This is, of course, a nonsensical comment from a player tasked as a lead creator from the perimeter. Harden also has an earned reputation for shrinking in similar moments and, just 48 hours earlier, he scored only 14 points on 13 shots in a blowout Game 5 loss. At this stage, it isn’t necessarily shocking to see Harden playing at a suboptimal level, but even by his shaky playoff standards, attempting two shots in a full half was, at the very least, quite notable.

From here, there is also a discussion on Harden’s future, as he will be weighing a massive player option and the potential for a long-term deal with the 76ers. Asked about the next step, Harden did align himself with Philadelphia, but gave little in the way of specifics.

Daryl Morey will have his work cut out for him in the offseason in navigating what could be a treacherous situation with Harden, who happens to be the player most closely aligned with Morey during his career as an NBA executive. The 76ers do have an elite centerpiece in Embiid, but there are overarching questions elsewhere, and Harden’s future will be at or near the top of the list of intriguing offseason topics across the league.