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The Philadelphia 76ers needed everything James Harden has to offer and more in their Game 6 matchup at home against the Miami Heat.

After taking on their worst loss of the postseason, collecting a 35-point defeat down in South Beach, the Sixers had no choice but to win or stay home for good on Thursday night.

In Games 3 and 4, Harden and the Sixers found success when playing in Philadelphia. Many expected the Sixers to use that same formula in their elimination game, but the lack of physicality and aggressiveness again caused the Sixers to struggle.

The Heat issued the Sixers a 99-90 loss. As usual, Sixers center Joel Embiid led the team in scoring with 20 points in 44 minutes. The second-year guard Tyrese Maxey tied the big man's total with 20 points of his own in 41 minutes.

All postseason long, James Harden constantly made it clear he needed to be more aggressive on the offensive end. Unfortunately for the Sixers, who had their season on the line, the ten-time All-Star didn't have it in him to take over once again in Game 6.

In 42 minutes of action, Harden attempted fewer than ten shots. With just four buckets and zero free throws, Harden produced 11 points in the loss to the Heat. As a focal point of the team, Harden's lack of production could indeed be viewed as a key reason why the Sixers came up short.

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But 76ers head coach Doc Rivers made it clear that nobody on the team single-handily lost the game.

“I don’t lay defeat at anybody," said Rivers after Game 6. "We’re a team like we don’t do that. We really are. We lost together as a group. I lost, Joel lost, James, we all lost. You know, the greatest thing about this is you keep trying to put your team back in these positions to win. That’s what’s so great about this. You don’t lose and then go home. You get to come back. You can say that about James and all of our guys. That’s the greatest part."

James Harden and the Sixers are heading into a critical offseason. As the veteran guard reiterated that he intends to opt into his player option, Harden looks forward to getting a full offseason with the Sixers. 

While it's unfortunate the Harden-Embiid pairing didn't result in a title run right away as planned, Doc Rivers noted many factors that played into his team's Game 6 loss. And he believes Philadelphia's issues on Thursday night ran much deeper than a quiet game from Harden. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.


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