Since arriving in Philadelphia, James Harden has had trouble playing like the MVP he was in Houston. For whatever reason, the 10x All-Star looked slow, lethargic, and past his prime in a Sixers jersey.
So when he delivered a huge, 31-point performance on Sunday, it was cause for celebration for Sixers fans everywhere.
On Twitter, Harden's name went viral as dreams of a revival of his old self sparked conversations online.
Harden's recent struggles have made it easy to take his career for granted, but he's got one of the best track records in the NBA. The 32-year-old is a 10x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champ, 7x All-NBA player, and 1x MVP.
In Houston, he was the best scorer in the league and an MVP candidate every season. Sadly, he has struggled mightily in Philly so far -- to the point where some claim the 76ers will regret trading for him.
“The reason I didn't like the trade is two things," said Barkley on the Harden deal. "The Sixers have a two-year window. Cause James is clearly in decline. But if you don't win this year, I think you gotta offer him $45 million next year and then they can sign that 4-year extension for $200 million. First of all, if the Sixers give him that money, they should fire whoever gives him that contract because that'll kill the franchise for the next 10-15 years. The reason I didn't like the trade, I said 'I don't think they're gonna win a Championship in the next two years and they gonna waste two years of Joel Embiid. Now you got the injury this season. James got a $45 million option which he's gonna take. And let me tell you if the Sixers give him that four-year, $200 million deal... James hasn't had 30 points in the last 35 games. So, I just think he’s on a decline and, man, the Sixers they’re gonna regret that trade."
If you're a Sixers fan, Game 4 must have been a huge encouragement. If Harden can play like that more consistently, the 76ers could be a threat to win it all this year.
If not this year, his play in this game is proof that he's still capable of some really big performances. With some time to train, heal, and rest, he could return next season like the guy we knew in Houston.
Ultimately, there's no way to know right now whether this Harden game was a fluke or a sign of things to come. For Philly's sake, let's hope it's the latter.