Pacers Rookie Sets Record Straight About Sixers Star James Harden

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers got a whole lot more than just its first regular season win against the Indiana Pacers on October 24. No, the Sixers got an epic James Harden step-back highlight against rookie Bennedict Mathurin.

In the fourth quarter, Harden found himself at the top of the key, with the tenacious Mathurin guarding him. After a few crosses, Harden feinted forward, then pulled back. In a flash, Mathurin was left sliding across the floor and Harden was alone.

Or, as the Sixers summed up in a simple word: “boom.”

It was an embarrassing moment for Mathurin, but one he wants to set the record straight on. According to the Pacers rookie, Harden didn’t pull a fast one on him; rather, Mathurin fell as a result of something else Harden did.

“My welcome-to-the-NBA moment—well it was not even really a welcome-to-the-NBA moment—but it was when me and James Harden had the little thing where he stepped on my foot and everybody thought it was an ankle-breaker,” Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek wrote on October 4.

Tobias Harris Responds to Pacers Coach’s Callout

Up to the Pacers game, most of the spotlight in Philadelphia was on Harden, Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey. As a result, Tobias Harris, Philly’s top-paid player, has enjoyed some time out of the spotlight. But that didn’t stop Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle from showing some love for the “underrated” forward. Harris responded in kind, giving some appreciation to the former Dallas Mavericks skipper.

“If Coach Carlisle said that, that’s a pretty good person to state that,” Harris said after the game, according to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Grasso. “I’ll take that as a compliment. I appreciate that.”

Also after the Pacers game, Harden celebrated his viral dropping of Mathurin and the Sixers’ first win on social media.

“first win of the season feels amazing, back on road!” Harden tweeted.

After that Pacers win, the Sixers have tried hard to right the ship.

Can Sixers Rebound From Difficult Start?

Prior to the Pacers game, the Sixers were still looking for its first win, having lost contests against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and San Antonio Spurs.

And since that 0-3 start, the Sixers have gone 5-3, a decent stretch, but one with still-glaring weaknesses. The transition defense has been generally better over the last three games, though there was only one way to go after giving up over 14 points per 100 possessions in transition across the Spurs, Pacers, and subsequent Raptors game a few weeks ago.

In the Sixers’ most recent three games, the Sixers have tightened the belt in transition. The team is actually posting a negative transition points given up per 100 possessions (minus-.6). Is that a result of switching the quicker and more defensive-minded De’Anthony Melton and Matisse Thybulle into the lineup with James Harden missing time? Probably.

Ditto for Joel Embiid, who missed a slew of games with illness. But in those games without Embiid, the Sixers were crushed in the paint and around the rim: the Knicks and Wizards shot nearly 83% at the cup with Embiid out with illness.

But it could also be a result of the Sixers solving their communication issues that resulted from adding four new players to the rotation this summer.

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