NBA Playoffs: James Harden’s dagger trey helps 76ers take Game 1 over Boston

James Harden steers Philadelphia to a Game 1 win over Boston (Charles Kupa/AP photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

James Harden nailed the game-winning three-pointer to help the Philadelphia 76ers take care of Game 1 business against the Boston Celtics, 119-115, in the ongoing NBA Playoffs last May 2, 2023.

With the game on the line and Boston trying to protect their one-point advantage, 114-115, with only 17 seconds left in the game, Harden’s clutch genes were again in full display after hitting the isolation trey against the defense of Al Horford that put Philadelphia back in the driver’s seat, 117-115.

The Celtics had a chance to equalize or take the lead but their drawn offensive play went to waste when the 76ers generated a defensive stop off the great hands of De’Anthony Melton and backup center Paul Reed.

With 4.6 seconds left, Jayson Tatum was left no choice but to foul Reed who calmly sank two clutch free throws that extended Philadelphia’s lead to four.

As Boston ran out of timeout, Horford was forced to throw a long pass to Marcus Smart who attempted a triple but his shot went off the rim.

Despite the absence of superstar center Joel Embiid who is still nursing a knee injury, Harden went beast mode from the get-go and embraced the challenge of taking a huge chunk of Philadelphia’s scoring load.

Harden didn’t disappoint and closed Game 1 with a game-high 45-point performance built from an impressive 17/30 shooting from the field.

The hefty lefty guard also had six assists and two steals in 39 minutes of playing time, one of his longest duration inside the court this 2023 postseason.

Harden’s early explosion immediately put the 76ers ahead in the first quarter but a counter run from the Celtics helped them retake the lead.

Tatum went toe-to-toe with Harden in the scoring department and finished with 39 points and 11 rebounds but was not enough to contain the waxing-hot Philadelphia offense.

Tyrese Maxey, one of the main offensive weapons of the 76ers, also stepped up to the occasion and chipped in 26 points including the stolen Boston possession which have Philadelphia the 114-113 lead with 28 seconds left in the game.

The Celtics will look to tie things up at 1-1 on their home floor on May 4, 2023, before flying to Philadelphia for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.