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Sixers-Heat Game 4 Recap: James Harden explodes for 31 points knotting series up 2-2

James Harden looked fresh in this one baby!

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Sixers evened up the series Sunday night by knocking off the Miami Heat 116-108. James Harden caught fire, putting up 31 points on 69.2 percent true shooting along with seven boards and nine assists. Joel Embiid had yet another gutsy performance, going for 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a block. Tyrese Maxey gave Philly a helpful 18 points and Danny Green and Georges Niang made some timely shots. Here are some instant reactions from Game 4.

First Half

  • Philly did a good job hunting mismatches for Embiid early in the first quarter, getting Jimmy Butler most often switched onto him in the pick-and-roll. Embiid was able to seal and get a couple easy baskets this way, as well as set up an open corner three for Danny Green. Despite his jumper remaining very much affected by the mask and thumb, the big fella still had a 15-point first quarter. Miami doubled down on the small-ball lineup, giving the backup center minutes to P.J. Tucker in the absence of Dewayne Dedmon.
  • Taking care of the basketball is still a weak point for the Sixers, especially as James Harden got himself into a bit of foul trouble early. The Sixers really struggle to move the ball with Harden on the bench, even more so against this aggressive Miami defense. Ten first-half turnovers kept the Heat right in the game despite the Sixers shooting 64 percent from the field in the first half.
  • After a rough start shooting-wise, Harden dished out seven first-half assists and got his step-back going, as he was excellent in the Sixers late second-quarter run.
  • The Sixers’ offense when Miami has thrown a zone at them this series has been really frustrating. It’s very stagnant, with just a couple passes around the perimeter and dribbling out the shot clock, they aren’t really challenging it in anyway.
  • Hello positive shooting regression, meet Danny Green.

Second Half

  • Philly came out of the half hot, stretching the lead to 11 before Miami began to scrap their way back. Jimmy Butler had another big third quarter, as 17 of his 40 came in the frame. The Sixers still haven’t quite decided how they want to approach Butler defensively, especially as they were trying to keep Tobias Harris out of foul trouble.
  • Embiid weathered the Heat third quarter run by getting to the free throw line. Despite not hitting them at the clip he’s used to, Embiid took 10 free throws in the quarter, making both Bam Adebayo and P.J. Tucker sit with four fouls.
  • Paul Reed struggled with Adebayo in the first half, but the minutes Embiid sat in the fourth quarter was a huge stretch for the Sixers. An 8-0 run to start the quarter saw the Sixers push the lead back to double digits. They benefitted from some missed open threes, but they defended and rebounded very well during this stretch, and the step-back three from Harden blew the roof off the place.
  • It was odd to see the 12-point lead shrink when Embiid checked back into the game, but James Harden was absolutely huge down the stretch. His three was falling all night, going 6 on 10 from downtown on the night. Given the stakes, this was certainly Harden’s best game as a Sixer.
  • The Sixers have certainly taken the momentum back, it’s a brand new series as it heads back to Miami for Game 5.