James Harden’s performance in 76ers’ loss ‘requires an investigation,’ ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says

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James Harden’s performance on Thursday night in the Philadelphia 76ers’ loss against the Miami Heat drew sharp criticism from ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith.

Harden played 42 minutes for Philadelphia. He was 4-of-9 with 11 points, nine assists and four rebounds in the 99-90 loss. He only took two shots in the second half – one each in the third and four quarters. For a superstar who was supposed to be the No. 2 option in scoring behind Joel Embiid, he came up short.

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James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers plays defense on Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers plays defense on Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was Harden’s second-half performance that really drew the ire of Smith.

“That performance by James Harden requires an investigation. How in God’s name you go 22 minutes in the second half and attempt one shot. It was a horrific performance. Anemic and impotent performance by James Harden,” Smith said after the game. “And I’m really interested in seeing what the Philadelphia 76ers are going to do with Doc Rivers because I smell something and it don’t smell right at all.”

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat  in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center on May 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat  in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center on May 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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The 76ers acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade at the deadline in February. He was supposed to help carry the team deep into the playoffs but for another year, Philly fails to get to the conference finals.

Harden was asked about whether he plans on opting into another year with the 76ers. He has a $47.3 million option. The superstar guard plans on being back.

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

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“I’ll be here. Whatever allows this team to continue to grow, get better and do the things necessary to compete at the highest level,” he said.

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