No one is ready to hit the panic button after two games but there is a name attached to it. Tobias Harris has been in a funk as he tries to adjust to the new pecking order in town. James Harden, Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey have been filling up the stat sheet while Harris struggles to find his role.
“Everybody’s just trying to learn each other, feed off each other,” Harris told reporters. “But you can really see how explosive of a group we can be out there scoring-wise. For us, we got to continue to focus on our execution and being able to lock in and get stops.”
The 6-foot=8 forward can talk about defense all he wants but the Sixers need his offense. The shots haven’t been falling for Harris who has gone 5-for-18 over the last two contests. That’s not the only problem. Harris is passing up open looks when the ball swings over to his side, something Harden pointed out. The Sixers want – no, scratch that, need Harris to be a willing shooter.
“I think my looks are good,” Harris said. “Obviously, would like to make every single shot, but with time, I’ll begin to see where these looks are coming from through the course of the game, and see where I can impose my will at times as well. But the ball is going to flow how it flows, and I got to just be ready for whatever opportunity comes my way and be okay with that. And I am, I’m fine with that.”
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Harris Not Worried About Shooting Struggles
Harris’ early season struggles haven’t helped matters. He was booed at home, then turned into a constant trade rumor. Harris can’t escape the drama. It’s a lot to deal with for a player averaging 18.3 points per game. Don’t be blinded by the box score, though. Harris doesn’t care if he takes eight shots a night or 15 as long as the Sixers keep winning.
“I’m not worried about offensive points and production,” Harris said. “Everyone has this notion of you got to score this many points or that, I get it, but at the end of the day, I’m a winner and I incorporate to winning basketball. If that is me taking 15 shots, if that’s me taking eight shots, it is what it is.”
Harden has given them another 25 points guaranteed per game. Or a more crooked number, like 40 or 50 on any given night. For Harris, he just needs to deliver when his number is called. He’s fine playing fourth fiddle to Maxey, too.
“A lot of people may not love hearing that but that’s the predicament we’re in,” Harris said. “We got a lot of firepower on this team, especially with James and Joel on this team, so just be out here ready when the shots are available, when the opportunity is there, and take advantage of it.”
Maxey Benefits the Most After Harden’s Arrival
Maxey has averaged 24.5 points per game during his first two contests playing alongside Harden. He has looked fresher and less stressed since scaling back his ball-handling responsibilities. The new starting five has put Maxey back into his “comfort zone,” according to head coach Doc Rivers. Remember, he played a lot of shooting guard at Kentucky and in high school.
“Tyrese benefits the most because it takes him off the ball,” Rivers said. “He’s back into his comfort zone. He’s playing the way he played in college, his whole life, and he’s doing it with a great player [in Harden], which makes it even easier for Tyrese.”