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James Harden’s airball and Marcus Smart’s flop gave us NBA opening night’s best lowlight

The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics played the first game of the 2022-2023 NBA season on Tuesday night, and in so many ways the NBA is picking up right where it left off. Take this second quarter possession from the Sixers as the ultimate evidence.

James Harden has the ball, and he’s defended by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. Harden starts his drive before going into his signature stepback. The move sends Smart flying across the floor to an almost comical degree — something that could really only happen with a flop.

Harden was so wide open he didn’t really know what to do with himself. He fired the shot and completely airballed it. Watch the video here:

The reverse angle — aka the 2K angle — is even better.

Look at just how far Smart flies. Check out the look of disbelief on his face that he didn’t draw an offensive foul on Harden. And Harden’s shot is just … not even close.

Harden is one of the best three-point shooters ever, but even the greats can still miss a shot just as badly as you do in the driveway. There really is such a thing as being too open.

Harden mostly looked pretty great at the start of this game. Philly has championship aspirations, as do the Celtics after falling two wins short of the title last year. It’s just going to take some time before both teams find a rhythm.

Smart’s flopping sure looks like it’s in mid-season form if nothing else.

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