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Sixers Bell Ringer: With everything on the line, James Harden was simply unstoppable

The Beard cracked the 30-point threshold for the first time these playoffs, precisely when his team needed it the most

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

Playoff Bell Ringer standings:

Tobias Harris - 3

Joel Embiid - 3

Tyrese Maxey - 2

James Harden - 1

The Sixers hosted the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and it was a tense one. Former 76er Jimmy Butler was absolutely unstoppable on Sunday night and he did all he could to keep Miami in this ballgame. Butler finished with 40 points on a hyper-efficient 20 attempts.

But in the end, the Sixers appeared to be the more talented team overall and got a huge breakout game from their point guard James Harden. It was a vintage Beard performance ripe with step-back triples and a little flexing as well.

Let’s ring some bells, shall we?

James Harden: 31 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 6-10 from three, 9-10 FTs

The whole second half of the year fans wanted more from The Beard. He didn’t leave them yearning this weekend. The six triples in Game 4, to help knot this best-of-seven series up, were so huge. In a game that felt like it could slip away at any moment, Harden continued pouring it on, and bailed the Sixers out time and time again. He looked like he made a concerted effort to stay aggressive, not just as a playmaker, but this time as a scorer too. Perhaps he heard some of his many critics. Perhaps he sensed his MVP-caliber teammate wasn’t quite himself. But this barrage by The Beard was simply too much for Butler and the Heat to bear.

Miami had the third-rated defense this regular season, but there wasn’t much they could do about this stuff. Vintage:

Each time fans prepared for Jimmy Butler to rip their hearts out, the Beard seemed to take it upon himself to either drain another bomb or set up a teammate for a good look.

If they hadn’t gotten this type of performance out of him, they might well be headed to Miami down 3-1 facing elimination. Now we’ve got a series and the home fans were going crazy. At least everyone but this dude:

Joel Embiid: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 9-13 FTs

In his second game back since missing time with a concussion and orbital fracture, Joel appeared a bit more comfortable Sunday than he did on Friday.

He still doesn’t have the touch on the outside shot. He clanked a three off side iron early, and then later he accidentally banked one. We’ll take it, but we can tell he’s certainly not the same sweet shooting Unicorn we saw all year.

Nonetheless, his impact is enormous because it means the Sixers don’t get out-rebounded terribly. They got bullied and hosed on the glass down in South Beach. But in Philly, they won the battle there by eight total over two ballgames. That’s a statistic which will bode well for them moving forward if they can continue to end possessions. It also helps them get out in transition and it all begins with their anchor, Embiid.

It’s certainly a new ballgame with No. 21 out there. If I had to knit pick, I felt he was a little too aggressive defending Butler in the third period. He seemed to give JB the Steph Curry treatment, running him off spots, but that allowed the former Sixer to get to the cup for easier looks and foul shots. JB was lethal.

If he plays like that again the Sixers may need to try something new. I’d look to make him take and make much more midrange jumpers. He’s simply too good in that paint.

Tyrese Maxey: 18 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2-5 from distance, 6-6 FTs

Both Tobias Harris and Danny Green picked up some foul trouble in this one. That placed a larger-than-normal burden on 21-year-old phenom Tyrese Maxey defensively. He tends to struggle there but it wasn’t a major theme here like it was for Seth Curry at times in round two last season, and that’s a win.

Offensively, Maxey picked his spots and found ways to hurt the Heat on some deep bombs and some transition runs.

I thought he drew contact on a play or two that could have been called for a continuation. Clearly, the officials would prefer Maxey to learn all of the sneaky tricks that Kyle Lowry deployed in this one, I’m not sure why refs reward that stuff but they do, so I guess ‘Rese needs to learn some grifter tricks.

Maxey filled in for his teammates as noted, and logged a whopping 42 minutes. He was a game high +14. Him being this consistent and this dependable in a slugfest of a game is pretty ridiculous.

This dime by ‘Rese to Tobi after a clutch offensive board by Joel helped stave off a late push by the Heat. Great touch beaming the chest pass lob over to Harris.

That’s just a winning play right there.

Tobias Harris: 13 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals

This wasn’t Tobias’ best game and he was tagged for some tough calls, he also took a wicked bow to the throat on a rebound and stayed down for a bit. But he’s earned plenty of fans’ respect for his toughness and how he continues to improve.

Most recently, in the two games in Philly, we’ve seen Harris step it up as a playmaker. Eight dimes in the prior game, and another four tonight. He’s seeing the floor and finding the open man. It’s not spectacular, but it was really clear how much this team missed him when he was sitting on the sidelines with the four personal fouls.

Harris’ defense hasn’t translated in the way we hoped this round. He did a terrific job limiting Pascal Siakam in round one. But Jimmy Butler is a whole other tier of superstar. Hopefully they can get Harris more help. Because if they leave him on an island to begin Game 5, he may just continue to pick up soft fouls and have to ride pine. He’s been too good overall, so they can’t afford that.

Poll

Who was the Game 4 bell ringer?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    James Harden
    (2102 votes)
  • 1%
    Joel Embiid
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    Tyrese Maxey
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Tobias Harris
    (11 votes)
2154 votes total Vote Now