NBA News: Joel Embiid Calls Out James Harden After His Scoring Struggles Against Raptors

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid
Wikimedia | Shakeydeal33

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The Philadelphia 76ers grabbed firm control of the first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, winning the first three contests.

However, the Raptors have clawed their way back into the series, securing victories in the last two games to force a Game 6 on their home floor on Thursday night. After the latest loss, Joel Embiid couldn't hold back his frustration regarding his teammate James Harden's inconsistent play.

Raptors Force Game 6 Against the 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid
Wikimedia | Blueairforce

The 76ers fell short in closing out their first-round series against the Raptors on Monday night, falling in a convincing fashion.

Toronto quickly controlled the pace of the game despite All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet being sidelined due to a left hip flexor strain. They became the 14th team to win back-to-back playoff games after falling to a 3-0 series deficit.

Embiid tallied a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but that wasn't enough to lift his team forward. The 76ers led for 21 seconds in the one-sided contest that pushes the series to a Game 6 on Thursday.

Joel Embiid Calls Out James Harden

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid
Wikimedia | Wow

The 76ers are facing the potential reality of playing in an all-or-nothing Game 7 against the Raptors after taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.

After Philadelphia dropped Game 5 on their home floor on Monday night, Embiid didn't beat around the bush regarding his frustration concerning Harden's play.

"I've been saying all season since he got here, he needs to be aggressive and he needs to be himself. That's not really my job, that's probably on coach to talk to him and tell him to take more shots. Especially if they're going to guard me the way they've been guarding me." "But that's really not my job. But we all need to be better offensively. We missed a bunch of wide-open shtos, at times I just felt like we just invited, when I was getting doubled, we were not aggressive attacking the ball."

Embiid has expressed that firm notion since Harden arrived, stating that he wants the 10-time All-Star to be the offensive game-changer he's been throughout his career. However, Harden has struggled to find any consistency with his scoring.

Through the first five games of the series, he's averaging 18.4 points while shooting 37.3% from the floor on 13.4 attempts per contest. Harden hasn't been consistently aggressive with his shot selection, recording nine shots in Game 2 and 11 in Game 5.

Embiid knows that if the 76ers hope to contend for an NBA title, the former league MVP needs to be assertive offensively.

James Harden Must Become The 76ers' X-Factor

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden
Wikimedia | Flickr upload bot

As Harden struggles in a 76ers' uniform, the more the doubt grows concerning his ability at this stage of his career.

The 32-year-old remains one of the game's top players, but his play has notably dropped since his tenure with the Houston Rockets. He hasn't been the same explosive scorer and playmaker that earned him recognition as an elite scorer.

Instead, he's had difficulty finding his spots offensively in Philadelphia. The 76ers desperately need Harden to pick up his play to help push the franchise toward a deep playoff run.

Time will tell, but it's starting to hedge heavily toward him receiving the bulk of the blame if his team falls short of NBA title contention.