Following the Philadelphia 76ers‘ sweep of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, Michael Pina of The Ringer singled out Sixers’ wing Tobias Harris for potentially being the X-Factor for the Sixers’ playoff hopes.
After asking if Harris could be the Sixers’ X-Factor, Pina talked about where he stands in the Sixers’ pecking order and what his history is in important games.
“Tobias Harris is often lost in the conversation about whether this Sixers team can win an NBA title. He’s an overqualified fourth option whose skill set often feels incompatible with those of Philly’s best players, and foreseeably, he wilts in big games,” Pina said.
Pina added what Harris has to do when he’s on the court to do his part in helping the Sixers advance.
“To advance, Philly needs Harris—a score-first third wheel—to thrive in less glamorous areas than he was originally paid for. Crash the offensive glass, fortify a switch-heavy defense, knock down wide-open 3s, take care of the ball, and, only on occasion, punish a mismatch with a tough turnaround.”
Pina previewed what Harris’ role could look like should they face off against the Boston Celtics in the next round.
“The big question now is whether he can replicate this success against the Celtics, who are chock-full of elite individual defenders and far superior offensive talent. Can he create second-chance opportunities in big moments, hit those open shots, and find ways to win when the ball isn’t in his hands? Will Boston feel Harris or completely forget he’s on the floor without being punished for it?”
Doc Rivers Praises Harris For Professionalism
Doc Rivers first coached Harris during his coaching days with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2018 to 2019 before meeting up again in 2020 when Rivers was hired as the Sixers’ head coach. Since becoming the Sixers’ coach, he’s seen Harris’ role offensively dwindle on the team, which is something he praised Harris for doing.
“Not a lot of guys like it, really,” Rivers told Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “I say it all the time to different people, you go back to when I first met him. He was my No. 1 option with the Clippers and I come to Philly and he’s 2, then 3, then 4, but he just does all the other stuff. There are times when he’s 2 and 3, but it’s not an easy thing.”
Rivers added that many players can’t do what Harris has done regarding accepting a smaller role, but
“A lot of guys can’t do it,” Rivers said. “You have to be on a good team, obviously, because selling that role is easier when you have a chance to do that. He’s committed himself to that, so it’s made it easier.”
Tobias Harris Singles Out PJ Tucker
After the Sixers finished off the Nets, Harris singled out PJ Tucker’s voice for how the Sixers pulled off the sweep.
“Experience is a huge thing in this game,” Harris told Carlin. “Having guys who have been there, having guys who’ve gotten — Tuck (PJ Tucker) who has won a championship. You guys don’t see all this stuff, but from the layup line, the way that he was adamant about focus on we’re gonna win tonight. We’re going to sweep, like, those type of things just show the winning attitude and winning nature of who he is.”