Doc Rivers Sends Strong Message to James Harden Ahead of Sixers-Nets Game 3

Doc Rivers, James Harden

Getty Head coach Doc Rivers and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden has not had the best start against the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs. The Philadelphia 76ers guard is averaging 15.5 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 32.4 percent from the field and 42.9% from three. He’s also averaging 4.5 turnovers a game.

Despite his struggles, head coach Doc Rivers believes Harden’s struggles can be attributed to the Sixers’ lack of spacing.

“Just continue to create space,” Rivers told Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “We showed it on film, our spacing was terrible the entire first half. So even if James did get in the paint, two of our guys were standing. In basketball, you get to the paint, it’s OK if two defensive players are there, but two of your guys shouldn’t be there as well because that makes it easier for them to help.”

Rivers then singled out the Sixers’ spacing in transition, believing a better performance from them would make the Sixers better.

“I thought our spacing was really poor in transition, especially, and that’s where it has to be at its best,” said the coach. “We have to run wide. We have too many guards, too many threes, fours running down on the floor where they should be running out wide. We didn’t do that for whatever reason.”

Tyrese Maxey Sounds Off on James Harden’s Struggles

Though he knows Harden has been struggling, Tyrese Maxey believes Harden will play better because he’s still a scoring threat that the defense will have to pay attention to.

“He’s getting there,” Maxey told Carlin. “He’s just gotta finish. It’s not like he can’t get there. He’s getting to the rim and I’m not worried about James making layups, but you’re right. When he gets to the rim, the defense has to collapse, and they know that he’s a threat score in there.”

Maxey also said that Harden’s abilities as a scorer and playmaker will help make life easier for the Sixers on defense.

“So because he’s a threat to score and because he’s James Harden, he’s going to attract so much attention when he drives that him being a great playmaker who can kick out to shooters or dump off to Joel (Embiid),” Maxey added. “That gets us open 3s as well.”

Magic Johnson Shouts Out Joel Embiid and James Harden

After the Sixers beat the Nets in Game 2, Los Angeles Lakers and NBA legend Magic Johnson shouted out Embiid and Harden for their leadership in the Sixers’ quest to win a championship.

“I like the leadership of MVP Joel Embiid and his co-pilot James Harden. They are committed to trying to bring a championship to Philadelphia this season!” Johnson tweeted.

Johnson also sounded off on how impressed he was with how the Sixers have played in their first two playoff games.

“I’ve been really impressed with the Philadelphia 76ers! They’ve played some of their best basketball in these first two games against the Nets, which is why they are up 2-0.”

During his playing days, Johnson went 2-1 against the Sixers in the NBA Finals, having faced off against them in 1980, 1982, and 1983.