By Tommy Matthews
If the Sixers win game 7 today against the Celtics, they’ll move on to play and beat the Heat to make the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001.
If they lose?
Doc Rivers’ third straight postseason failure to cash in on Joel Embiid’s MVP greatness will earn him a pink slip.
James Harden will need to be talked out of his player option for the team to get the consistent third piece it needs.
Could Tobias Harris and/or P.J. Tucker be packaged for a reliable veteran?
Harris scored two points in 42 minutes in Game 6. It was easily his worst playoff performance of the year — maybe of his entire career.
We saw the base-case scenario of postseason Harris in the first round, but that was Brooklyn. If Harris can’t provide similar stability against the elite opponents, then Rivers has to consider alternative options. It’s Game 7 — if Harris doesn’t show up, the Sixers can afford to keep him on the floor for 42 minutes.
The primary issue with Harris this series (and especially in Game 6) hasn’t been missed shots. Every shooter goes through a cold spell; so long as the process is good, you live with the results.
In Game 6, Harris killed the Sixers with poor decision-making and defensive lapses. Joel Embiid was visibly frustrated after one turnover caused, in part, because Harris wasn’t properly spaced on the perimeter. The Celtics caught Harris sleeping defensively on multiple occasions and too often he record-scratched on open looks from 3, instead preferring to drive haphazardly into traffic with no rhyme or reason.
It was the perfect encapsulation of all of Harris’ worst tendencies. When Harris isn’t taking rapid-fire 3s or making swift decisions off the catch, he can be actively detrimental to the Sixers’ offense. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey are all paramount. If Harris isn’t helping them, players like Melton and Georges Niang should get extended looks.