The Sixers proceed to counter the less-than-rosy repute of James Harden, who was acquired in a blockbuster commerce after he compelled his manner out of Houston and Brooklyn within the span of somewhat greater than a yr.
Beginning wing Matisse Thybulle mentioned after Wednesday’s shootaround that Harden has “impressed lots of people … simply [with] the vitality, the discuss” since becoming a member of the Sixers lower than three weeks in the past. That reward got here 5 days after Harden known as himself “top-of-the-line teammates that the NBA’s seen, on the courtroom and off the courtroom” following his Sixers debut at Minnesota.
“The camaraderie has grown simply from his presence alone, simply due to the quantity of ardour he performs with,” Thybulle mentioned of Harden. “… I’m certain he’s conscious of the magnitude, the impact that he has in that class for everybody else.
“When you might have considered one of your finest gamers be considered one of your most passionate, vocal, outspoken leaders, that’s all you possibly can ever want for in a frontrunner. And it trickles all the way down to all people.”
That strategy has carried over to the courtroom, the place Thybulle mentioned he has most felt Harden’s impression within the Sixers’ uptick in tempo.
Of their first two video games with Harden, a 133-102 win at Minnesota and a 125-109 victory at New York, the Sixers ranked seventh within the NBA in that class with 103.3 possessions per recreation. That’s a pointy improve from their season common of 96.5 possessions per recreation, which ranked twenty seventh within the league coming into Wednesday.
Moreover, their 20.5 fast-break factors in these two video games ranked second within the league throughout that span (in comparison with their 12.7 per recreation on the season, which ranked thirteenth), their offensive effectivity of 124.6 factors per 100 possessions ranked third (in comparison with their 111.5 factors per 100 possessions on the season, which ranked eleventh) and their 29 assists per recreation ranked third (in comparison with 23.2 per recreation on the season, which ranked twenty third).
“The pace through which the ball flies round within the half courtroom has modified, too,” Thybulle mentioned. “I believe it’s turned everybody into rather more dynamic threats on offense, throughout the board. Even Joel [Embiid’s] passing has modified, and his rolling is like we’ve by no means seen earlier than.
“It’s a small pattern measurement, however I believe it provides a great really feel for what we’re able to and the place we are able to proceed to clearly get higher.”
Coach Doc Rivers described the Sixers’ Tuesday follow as “boring” and “monotonous.”
They spent the majority of the session breaking down all of the secondary actions out of the three or 4 performs Harden already is aware of. That’s not usually how groups are using their time with about 20 video games remaining in a decent playoff push. However it’s one of many subsequent steps in Harden’s acclimation course of, after acknowledging he was “simply on the market winging it, truthfully” throughout his first two video games.
“Proper now, you are taking us out of our first choice [and], actually, guys don’t know what to go to,” Rivers mentioned. “So we went all over every choice of every play, defined the whole lot we’re in search of, the place we’re making an attempt to get the ball.
“We spent a ton of time on the place to chop, the place to house, the place to be. That’s gradual [and] boring, nevertheless it’s stuff it’s a must to do.”
No Sixers have been listed on the damage report for Wednesday’s recreation towards the Knicks, aside from rookies Jaden Springer and Charles Bassey and two-way gamers Myles Powell and Charlie Brown Jr. being with the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats.
It’s a luxurious throughout a season that has typically been disrupted by accidents and gamers in COVID-19 well being and security protocols — notably whereas infusing Harden.
“You’re gonna have some [injuries at some point],” Rivers mentioned. “You simply clearly don’t need any unhealthy ones. However guys are gonna miss video games. I’m certain they’re.”
It’s wanting much less and fewer possible that Ben Simmons will play within the much-anticipated last regular-season matchup between the Sixers and the Nets on March 10 on the Wells Fargo Heart.
ESPN reported Wednesday that Simmons, who’s nursing decrease again soreness, has not but participated in full crew exercises and that the Nets wouldn’t put him in a recreation state of affairs till he had gone by per week’s value of such actions. Simmons has not performed in any respect this season after sitting out his time on the Sixers’ following a commerce demand.
Nets star Kevin Durant, in the meantime, is on observe to return for Thursday’s recreation towards Miami after lacking greater than six weeks with a knee damage.