PHILADELPHIA — After a 3rd straight sterling efficiency in a 76ers uniform — however the first in entrance of the followers inside Wells Fargo Heart — James Harden declared Philadelphia seems like dwelling.
“Simply thrilling,” Harden stated after ending with 26 factors, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in Philadelphia’s 123-108 victory over the New York Knicks in entrance of a raucous sellout crowd Wednesday evening. “The love, the followers, it seems like dwelling. Simply the love, the help, man, from wanting round, listening to, ‘We love you, James.’
“That proper there makes me exit and play more durable, and I simply wished to do no matter it takes to get the win.”
To date in a 76ers uniform, Harden is 3-for-3 in that regard, as Philadelphia — mixed with Milwaukee‘s last-second victory over Miami on Wednesday evening — now sits two video games again of the Warmth for the highest spot within the Japanese Convention standings.
All anybody was centered on right here, nonetheless, was Harden lastly stepping onto the court docket in uniform in entrance of his new followers for the primary time since Philadelphia acquired him within the blockbuster Ben Simmons commerce with the Brooklyn Nets three weeks in the past. Harden’s sluggish buildup from the hamstring accidents that dogged his last days in Brooklyn prompted him to overlook the staff’s final dwelling sport, on Feb. 15, and noticed him make his debut Friday in Minneapolis in opposition to the Timberwolves earlier than taking part in Sunday at Madison Sq. Backyard in opposition to the Knicks.
Each of these video games, like Wednesday evening’s rematch with New York, led to Philadelphia victories. Whereas it’s nonetheless extraordinarily early on this grand experiment and much harder opponents lie forward, all concerned are fairly happy with the early progress.
“I imply, all of us simply match collectively,” stated Joel Embiid, who completed with 27 factors, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and two blocks in 34 minutes. “You have acquired somebody in James that is available in along with his expertise and his playmaking skill, scoring skill, and also you add up what he provides and he is been wonderful, and what we have now on the staff. All of it suits.”
It suits, partially, due to the continued emergence of second-year guard Tyrese Maxey, who has taken yet one more step ahead after impressing as the place to begin guard whereas Simmons was away from the staff looking for a commerce.
Wednesday’s 25-point efficiency was Maxey’s third straight sport with greater than 20 factors since Harden entered the lineup. On Wednesday, 21 of Maxey’s factors got here after halftime, when he stated Harden gave him a wake-up name.
“James got here as much as me and requested me if I used to be going to play at this time,” Maxey stated with a smile whereas addressing their halftime dialog, “and I instructed him, ‘Yeah.’
“Having guys like James, [Embiid], Tobias [Harris], simply saying I’ve acquired to be aggressive … I can not go stretches like that being passive. I’ve acquired to assist these guys out, and we have to assist these guys out as a staff as a lot as potential.”
Mentioned Harden: “We’d like him to be aggressive. I do know it is tough as a result of myself and Joel have the ball, however when he has a chance, he must be aggressive.”
Finally, although, Philadelphia goes so far as its new famous person tandem of Harden and Embiid can take them.
When the 76ers have been being launched earlier than the sport, Eminem’s tune “Lose Your self” was echoing by way of the audio system and bouncing across the sold-out area.
The tune, all about seizing the second and never letting what is perhaps your one likelihood at greatness slip away, was an apt one when wanting on the 76ers as a complete. The Harden acquisition was made with championships in thoughts — each for Harden, who’s missing a hoop on his first-ballot Corridor of Fame résumé, and for the 76ers, who have not gained a championship in almost 40 years and have not made the NBA Finals since 2001.
Starting Friday, when the Cleveland Cavaliers go to, the 76ers play 9 of their subsequent 10 video games in opposition to playoff groups earlier than happening a five-game street journey to finish the month — a far harder stretch than the opening three video games they’ve performed within the Harden period.
For now, although, the 76ers will take the wins after they can get them, as they proceed to attempt to construct towards what, they hope, can be a protracted playoff run this spring.
“Each sport for us is gonna be robust,” Harden stated. “We’re new, we’re pretty new, we’re nonetheless studying one another. Each sport goes to be a studying expertise for us, and we have to simply discover methods to proceed to chip away, proceed to get higher, win or lose. Clearly it is higher once you win to determine it out, however it is going to be nice exams for us and we’re actually wanting ahead to it.”