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Sixers Bell Ringer: Harden bounces back with 42, Sixers tie series 2-2

Breathe. It’s over, for now.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Sixers Playoff Bell Ringer standings

Tyrese Maxey - 2

James Harden - 2

Joel Embiid - 2

Tobias Harris - 1

The Philadelphia 76ers pulled out a 116-115 overtime win over the Boston Celtics to tie the series at 2-2.

The Sixers looked better in the first period of this one than they did for any of the past two contests. Joel Embiid led the Sixers after one with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the first, then all eyes turned to James Harden. The Sixers built their first double-digit lead of the series on his back, and after a 15-point, four-assist second frame for the Beard, Philadelphia led the Celtics by nine at halftime.

The third period went as the first half did — all Embiid and Harden for the Sixers, extending the hosts’ lead to 16 at one point in the frame. The Celtics continued to battle and closed out the frame strong on a 8-2 run, cutting the Philadelphia advantage to just nine after three.

Then, as it always does, it got uncomfortable. Do the Sixers know they do not have to implode every game? Can someone tell them?

A few Sixers’ misses later and suddenly the game was tied at 96 with just over five minutes to play. There seemed to be no end in sight to the bleeding for Philadelphia, with Boston taking a five-point lead with two minutes to play. At that point, the Sixers had just eight points in the final frame. Nevertheless, Philadelphia evened the score at 107 with 15.9 seconds to play. Boston ball. A Marcus Smart three-point attempt was no good and we headed to overtime.

With time in the extra minutes expiring, who else had the ball but Harden, who sank a triple with 19 seconds to play to win the game for the Sixers.

The series now stands at 2-2. Game 5 takes us back to Boston on Tuesday night for a 7:30 p.m. ET tipoff.

Let’s talk Bell Ringer. Who else but the dynamic duo?

James Harden: 42 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 1 block,

2023 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Harden has looked rough the past two games, and the Sixers have sincerely suffered because of it. Not on Sunday, though. The uncertainty that plagued the guard, especially in Game 3, seemed to be gone.

He was playing all the hits in the first half. He got the game going with an assist on a pick-and-roll with Joel Embiid. He added a few aggressive downhill drives to the basket early, sinking a few lay-ups and earning a trip to the line for his six first-period points.

In the second, though, Harden truly put the Sixers on his back during the Embiid-less minutes. He kicked off the period sinking a step-back triple and following it up with two short-range jumpers on the next consecutive possessions. Oh, and he put up a block on Malcolm Brogdon in that sequence as well. He continued to cook, setting up himself and his teammates for what ultimately became a 15-point, four-assist second for the Beard.

He led the Sixers at the half with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting, 3-for-3 from long range.

He wasn’t done. He went on another tear in the third. In consecutive Sixers’ possessions, Harden hit a step-back jumper, assisted an Embiid jumper with a behind-the-back dime, and hit a running three-pointer to extend the Sixers lead to 15 midway through the third.

Fast forward to the fourth, the Sixers trail by two with time winding down. Harden hit a clutch driving floating jumper to tie the game and send us to overtime.

In the extra five minutes, Harden hit the game-winning triple with 19 seconds to play.

Harden finished this one with 42 points on 16-for-23 shooting (6-for-9 from three-point range), eight rebounds, and nine assists. Not only that, he looked active and effective on defense as well, something we can’t always say about Harden. He grabbed four steals (one in OT) and put up a block.

Did I mention he did it all with just one turnover?

Joel Embiid: 34 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Celtics really have no one that can contain Embiid — sometimes not even a double or triple team was enough.

Embiid led the Sixers after one with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting. The big man also had a great play to assist the Sixers’ first triple of the game drawing his defender and the help defender over before launching a pass to Georges Niang to open the long-range game for Philadelphia.

He also — as usual but worth mentioning — was huge on the boards, something desperately needed by this Sixers’ squad. After resting for the beginning of the second, Embiid got back to work and had a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double with over three minutes left to play in the first half. He finished the half with 19 points and 11 boards.

Unfortunately, toward the end of the game, Al Horford (*shudders*) put up not one, not two, but three blocks on Embiid in the fourth to stifle his efforts at the end of regulation. In OT, Embiid dropped four crucial points.

Embiid finished this one with 34 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a steal. He took advantage of the Celtics’ defensive desperation towards him and earned 15 shots from the charity stripe, sinking 13.


Who is the Sixers’ Bell Ringer for Game 4 vs. the Celtics?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    James Harden
    (1099 votes)
  • 1%
    Joel Embiid
    (14 votes)
1113 votes total Vote Now

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