Before the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Dallas Mavericks on March 29, head coach Doc Rivers voiced his confidence in the team despite their struggles beforehand, having lost four of their last five, believing that the Sixers’ issues have simply come down to health.
“I love our team, and I’m going to keep saying it,” he told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re not worried.… We have to respect everybody. But we like our team.
“So we’ve just got to get healthy, and rhythm helps, too.”
Rivers added that having everyone healthy would be crucial in helping with their rotations.
“So it’d be great to get back to our normal rotations, where we have everybody,” Rivers said. “We have the right rotations in the second and in the beginning of the fourth quarters. We haven’t had the opportunity.”
The Sixers’ game against the Mavericks marked the return of both Joel Embiid and James Harden, who had not played in some of the Sixers’ prior games.
James Harden Provides Grim Update on Injury
After the Sixers beat the Mavericks, Harden gave more detail on the injury that sidelined him for the previous games, including the last game he had played against the Chicago Bulls, where he called the pain unbearable.
“I don’t know where it came from, but it’s been bothering me for some months, I would say,” Harden said, via The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman. “I just wanted to continue to play on it. There was one point to where, the last game I played, it was just really unbearable. I couldn’t even go out there. Six games left to finish this season off strong, and then we got another week to prepare, so I felt like tonight was the game to come back.”
Harden added that he feels fine, and at this point, it’s all about managing the injury from now until when the regular season ends.
“I felt okay,” Harden told reporters. “Towards the end, I felt a little sore, but I expected that, so just try to do the proper things to continue to maintain it and finish these last six games off.”
Joel Embiid Says He Should Be Fine For Playoffs
During his postgame interview, Embiid got candid when asked about how he was feeling physically after the Sixers defeated the Mavericks.
“I’m getting there. Obviously, I’m not at my best, but I’m glad we got the win tonight, and we gotta keep building together stronger. I think by the time the players come around, I’ll be fine and ready to go,” Embiid said.
Embiid missed the Sixers’ game against the Nuggets because of a calf injury on March 27. While talking with reporters after the Sixers’ victory against the Mavericks, Embiid said that his calf was feeling “good enough.”
Though Embiid admitted that he could have played better, he said his focus is “making sure everything is right for what matters.” In this case, Embiid is likely referring to the postseason, which is merely weeks away for the Sixers.