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In The Wake Of James Harden's 45-Point Masterpiece In Boston, We Have An All-Time "Freezing Cold Takes" Segment From ESPN

Boston residents should be racing to James Harden's side tonight to hand out fun coupons, vouchers and any incentive known to mankind to get that man to the strip club. That is his natural habitat away from the basketball court, and the Celtics are in desperate need of a patented bender from The Beard if Monday's insane Harden performance is a sign of what's to come.

With an injured Joel Embiid out of action for Philadelphia, Harden — who doesn't have the, um, best reputation as a clutch playoff performer — turned back the clock to his Houston Rockets heyday and destroyed the Celtics. This man shot 34.3% from the field in the opening round. 

SO I GET IT. It was indeed a laughable notion that Harden would pull up to TD Garden tonight and do this. Nevertheless, the conviction with which Nick Friedell in particular bloviated and cackled like a hyena about how bad and washed Harden is couldn't have been more wrong.

El Pres and Hank had some Boston fandom-fueled zingers prior to tip-off that @OldTakesExposed decided to retweet. Since I'm a company guy, you can go find that shit for yourself. I'm here to make fun of these folks on the four-letter network. At least you can understand why Pres and Hank said what they said. They're from Boston. Passions are high. It was only logical to be confident from that point of view.

...This thing from ESPN, though? They're, like, questioning Harden's manhood, capacity to play professional basketball and can't conceive of the notion that he might have (at least) one last stand in him. Welp, talk about making someone eat their words. Holy SHIT did Harden heat up.

I've enjoyed rooting against Harden over the years, but my stance has softened on that quite a bit. It's more like I'm sad for him that he's not even sniffed a championship. No, he doesn't necessarily help himself by frequenting strip clubs whenever is seemingly humanly possible. Still…The Beard has tried to chase that elusive title in so many different ways and keeps falling on his face. For as annoying as it was when he basically refused to shoot anything but threes and flail his arms for a zillion foul calls a game, he's aging like milk in the twilight of his career.

OR IS IT the twilight of James Harden's career!?!? Has this man been lulling us to sleep this whole time? Half the time you're not sure if he's even in shape, or if he's dealing with a nagging hammy issue. Or if he's too tired from raging his face off the night before. What an enigma this man is. One of the more compelling figures in all of professional sports.

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Well done tonight, Harden. Let's see if you can keep it up. Philly fans gotta be feeling themselves. Getting Embiid back for Game 2 with a shot to take a 2-0 lead back home. However, you know the C's will be in desperation mode. Should be a hell of a matchup Wednesday night.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok