James Harden's first playoff run with the Sixers didn't create fireworks in Philadelphia. While the ten-time All-Star had a solid first-round performance in six games against the Toronto Raptors, his second-round performance against the top-seeded Miami Heat didn't inspire hope for future playoff runs -- especially in the last two games.
In six games against the Heat, Harden averaged 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. During the final game of the year, Harden attempted just nine shots from the field and scored 11 points in Philadelphia's elimination game.
After the game, the veteran guard explained what went wrong personally in the final four quarters of his team's postseason run.
“We ran our offense. I felt like the ball moved, and it just didn’t get back to me,” said Harden last week.
Harden's underwhelming playoff performance, mixed with his postgame comments, caused quite a stir from the Sixers' fan base and NBA critics. Despite what's being said, though, Harden's cryptic post on Instagram Sunday night hints that the star guard is seeing the criticism aimed at him, but he's going to "keep pushing."
"I be [quiet] about s***. I just let the people talk. It's a lot that goes into it. Keep pushin."
Harden made it clear after Game 6 that he looks forward to the offseason after what he described as a long two years. From getting traded twice to dealing with a significant setback, which required rehab last year, Harden looks forward to having a normal offseason this year.
“Honestly, it’s been a long two years for me,” said Harden. “I’m finally starting to feel OK. It will be a great summer for me to get my body right and be ready to go for next year. These last two years have been a whirlwind, though.”
As Harden enters a critical offseason, the star guard will likely continue to garner criticism due to the way his season ended. It seems he's going to use all of that as motivation going into the offseason as he works on "getting right" for next season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.
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