The Philadelphia 76ers and their fans are jubilant with the way the team has played since landing James Harden in a trade at the deadline. The Sixers are off to a 2-0 start with Harden in uniform and have been dominant so far.
The Sixers have averaged 129 points per game over the last two games while holding opposing teams to 105.5 points per game. So far the team has been having a lot of fun on the court, which is easy to do when you’re winning games in blowout fashion.
Impact on Embiid
The addition of Harden has made an immediate impact on Sixers big man Joel Embiid, who was already having an MVP caliber season. In the last two games, Embiid has averaged 35.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He also has shot 40 free throws, making 34 of them.
After the Sixers 125-109 victory over the Knicks on Sunday Embiid gave his thoughts on the news superstar duo.
“Unstoppable, I mean what are you really going to do?,” said Embiid, “He’s a great passer, and obviously I’ve got someone that attracts a lot of attention, so you got to make a decision do you stay on me or stay on him and if you want to guard both of us with other guys now you got Matisse diving to the rim, wide-open shooters that’s got one job to do and it’s make shots. That’s all we got to keep doing, like I was saying in the locker room, I’m happy I don’t have to post up every single possession so it’s great.”
“Before James, we never really had anybody coming off the pick and roll that the defense would’ve respected as a guard, nowadays you got him (Tyrese Maxey) and James, they know he can shoot off the dribble and all those stepbacks and attack the rim, so he causes the reaction from the defenders and he gets all of us wide open.”
When watching the Sixers with Harden, everything Embiid says is evident. His ability to draw attention and find open teammates has been huge for this team.
Long Way To Go
It’s just two games for the Sixers with Harden, but obviously, things have been great so far. With that said the team hasn’t really been tested by elite competition yet. Harden acknowledged after Sunday’s game that the team still has work to do.
“We have a long way to go,” said Harden, “This is game two for me, long way to go, but I like the direction we’re in. Especially defensively, that’s going to be what we hang our hats on like if we can get stops offensively it’s going to be pretty easy.”
Harden has been maligned for his defense for much of his career, so to hear him praise the team’s defense early on is a little surprising. He’s also been doing his part at that end of the floor, he had five steals in Sunday’s win.
The schedule will get more difficult for the Sixers this week. After hosting the Knicks on Wednesday the next four games will come against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Brooklyn Nets. That stretch will be an interesting test for the Sixers.