Where would the 76ers be without James Harden?
After a virtuoso performance saved the day in Game 1, Harden had a couple of rough outings as the Sixers came up short in Games 2 and 3. In Game 4, however, the former MVP proved he had more heroics left in the tank.
It’s one thing that Harden went off for 42 points and added nine assists and eight rebounds, but it’s another that he delivered time after time in the clutch, forcing overtime with a floater and sinking the game-winning 3-pointer to tie the series at two games apiece.
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In Sunday’s Game 4, Harden was a hero in every sense of the word. And while he was playing to extend the series, he was also playing for something — and someone — much bigger.
Harden dedicated his clutch performance to John Hao, a survivor of the February mass shooting at Michigan State.
Hao, who was left paralyzed from the chest down because of the attack, is a big fan of Harden’s, and the two were able to connect in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Months later, Hao was Harden’s guest for Game 4, and the two were able to meet in person during his pregame workout.
Following his performance, Harden made sure to have Hao by his side during his walk-off interview, which he did not begin until after gifting his autographed game-worn sneakers to his new friend.
“I put the work in, so it’s all about being aggressive,” Harden said. “I had a special guest in the building — Little J.H. — he just gave me good luck, he brought me good vibes and good energy.
“Really, this game was for him,” Harden added, before joking that he would invite Hao to “every game from here on out.”
Inspired by Hao, Harden’s performance gave the Sixers new hope in the postseason. Now, the series shifts back to Boston for a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday.