Sixers React to James Harden’s Philly Debut: ‘Louder, Crazy, Good’

James Harden

Getty Sixers guard James Harden will make his Philadelphia home debut on March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The Philadelphia 76ers have long enjoyed the best home-court advantage in basketball. They have gone 60-11 over the past two seasons on the comfortable tiles of Wells Fargo Center, although the 2021-22 season has been an anomaly. The Sixers are a disappointing 16-13 at home this year while fighting off injuries and tweaking lineups.

That’s about to change in a big way judging by the first two games of the James Harden experiment. The 10-time All-Star will make his Philadelphia debut on March 2 in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd. It’ll be loud. It’ll be crazy. It’ll be good, rather obnoxiously perfect.

“I don’t know, nuts? is it ever not?” head coach Doc Rivers said. “I expect it to be louder, crazy, good but that’s what we are most of the time anyway.”

Danny Green added that he feels sorry for opposing teams having to play in that raucous environment. The atmosphere is going to be electric, like a playoff game.

“Like a playoff-like atmosphere. Very hectic, another level, it’s going to be exciting, and a lot of fun,” Green said. “I feel for the teams coming into our building now, even though before we had him [Harden] it was good. Now that we have him, tough stretch coming up, too — it’s good that we have a lot of those at home.”

Green was referring to a murderer’s row slate set to stab them, including Cleveland (March 4), Miami (March 5), Chicago (March 7), Brooklyn (March 10), Denver (March 14). Four out of five are at home.

“The city’s excited. We’re excited,” Rivers said. “It’ll be great for James, great for the team. But, at the end of the day, it’s a competition. And that’s what we’re going to show up for.”

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Don’t Forget: It’s Only Two Games

Harden has brought considerable hype to both the city and the locker room. The Sixers are expected to compete for a championship — not in two or three years. Right now. His teammates are ready to wear the bull’s eye on their backs even when expectations turn into pressure.

“It is fun. We’re going into full arenas,” Tobias Harris said. “The hype is there for our group, our team. That always brings excitement to it. What’s not to like about it?”

“We got hometown crowds on the road now,” Danny Green said. “Everyone’s excited about it.”

Interestingly, the Sixers own the best road record in the Eastern Conference at 21-10. The last time they played a home game was February 15, a 48-point loss to Boston. It was the seventh-worst loss in franchise history. And the greatest margin of victory for the Celtics in their 457-game rivalry.

The Enemy Becomes The Teammate

Several Sixers players have commented on how nice it is to be receiving passes from Harden instead of trying to guard him. Georges Niang cited the way he “dribbles through his legs” while Danny Green and Tobias Harris both marveled at his court vision. Joel Embiid talked about defenders having to make a decision on whether to focus on him or attack Harden.

“He’s just timing you up to use your strengths against you,” Niang said. “It’s amazing that I get to see it every day because when we were playing against him it was like hey, this is a pain in the a**.”

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