James Harden debut: Sixers Twitter goes nuclear, Joel Embiid rips Ben Simmons
It didn’t take long for James Harden to make his presence felt. Early in his debut with the Philadelphia 76ers, The Beard dribbled over the baseline and released a nice crossing on the way to an easy and unique opportunity. He swept the free throw to put the Sixers up 10-6 with 8:43 into the first quarter.
Harden was sensational in his opener, showcasing his patented back three multiple times while wowing with several no-look passes from Houdini. He went on strike on the ground to a striated Tyrese Maxey for a quick set up. He played solid defense. He fought for rebounds. It was everything as advertised and more. Harden finished with 27 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds.
Following the game, Sixers Twitter erupted in excitement…to the point of nuclear explosion with emotions ranging from “worth every penny” to “the championship here we come”. harden the blow as many three points in one night that Ben Simmons hit his entire career in Philadelphia. This number is five. The Broad Street beard has arrived.
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Joel Embiid Loving Harden, shoot Simmons
The Embiid-Harden bromance goes from strength to strength after a game together in Philadelphia. The Sixers destroyed the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102 in Harden’s Friday night debut. The dynamic duo combined for 61 of 17 of 30 while drilling eight three-pointers. The Sixers have come to the foul line 36 times, with Embiid and Harden passing 19 of 22 from the charity strip.
Embiid was the biggest beneficiary of Harden’s impact. He was pretty much open the whole game and bullied Minnesota into the post when they threw double teams his way. His line of statistics: 34 points, 10, rebounds, three assists. After the game, the Sixers big man gave Harden all the credit for controlling the tempo…and seemed to tear Simmons apart.
“You should have seen my face every time, especially in the fourth,” Embiid said NBC Sports Philadelphia. “You know, the first three quarters obviously made plays for all of us, and that was probably the most open I’ve ever been in my career.
“I had a lot of easy baskets. I used to work for everything, but in the fourth shift, the shooting ability, creating shots, you should have seen my face… it’s like I never had that, nothing close so I hope it continues. We didn’t even play our best.
Wait, was that last part a not-so-subtle shot at Simmons. Never had that? Nothing close? Simmons was supposedly best known for his play and passing. Looks like Embiid has evolved.
Tyrese Maxey shines against Minnesota
Tyrese Maxey scored 28 points against Minnesota, second-best behind Embiid. It was a slap in the face for those who thought the second-year guard was going to regress with Harden in the backcourt. Maxey was better than ever and received some savvy veteran pennies from his new teammate. He flew up and down the pitch with reckless abandon while alternating primary ball handling duties with Harden.
Harden and Maxey were unstoppable in 67 minutes combined. And Maxey couldn’t help but gush during his post-match press conference, especially regarding Harden’s passing. He is able to relax the defense and then unload that step back out of the blue. Maxey remembered Harden doing this to him in Brooklyn, then laughed that it was better to have him as a teammate.
“It’s a lot better, it’s a lot better because I know that from experience,” Maxey said. “When he was in Brooklyn and he was doing it to me, he was backing me up, and you were touching him, and he was foul. But that comes from his ability to pass the ball. They’re so worried that he’ll pass and they’re laying off, and now he’s creating for himself.