The Philadelphia 76ers were without league MVP Joel Embiid to open the Eastern Conference semifinals against a team that has routinely had their number. Time to panic, right? Good luck telling that to James Harden. The 10-time All-Star turned back the clock for a vintage offensive explosion in Game 1. With the Boston Celtics clinging to a one-point lead in the closing seconds, Harden found himself locked in an isolation matchup with Al Horford and allowed his handles to create just enough of a sliver to pull the trigger on a straightaway step-back 3-pointer that he buried with 8.1 seconds to play. The Beard’s clutch shot gave his squad the lead for good, matching his playoff career-high with 45 points on 17 of 30 from the field, including a 7 of 14 mark from downtown. Harden mixed in six assists in the series-opening 119-115 victory on May 1, 2023.
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