Atlantic Notes: Harden, Harris, Sixers, R. Williams, Raptors

James Harden says he was at a “low point” after the Sixers were eliminated in last season’s playoffs by the Heat. Being traded twice in two seasons, dealing with significant injuries, and a couple of tough playoff losses left him “drained and deflated,” according to Yaron Weitzman of

The whole two years was a low point. I’ve never really had to deal with something like that,” Harden told Weitzman recently. “My body, mentally, physically … It was a lot going on. I mean, basketball is everything to me.”

The former MVP guard discussed a number of topics with Weitzman, including his reluctance to do interviews (“People will take the smallest thing that I say and basically screw it up and then it becomes a problem“), his desire to have his career be remembered in a positive light (“I’m one of the people that changed the game of basketball. Honestly, the only thing that I’m missing is a championship“), his offseason work to avoid future injuries, acclimating with the Sixers, adjusting his game as he gets older and plays alongside another ball-dominant star in Joel Embiid, and his relationship with the back-to-back MVP runner-up, among others.

When asked about his struggles in playoff elimination games, Harden admits his results have been mixed — but says it’s not entirely on him.

I’ve had a few bad games in close-out games. Not all of them have been bad,” he said. “Quite frankly, a lot of the times our team wasn’t good enough to compete for championships, if you want to be honest. There’s only so much I can do.”

Weitzman’s feature is worth checking out in full if you’re interested in Harden’s career.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris was ruled out for Friday’s victory over the Warriors due to back pain, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It was Harris’ third missed game of the season, and it’s unclear what his status is going forward.
  • In another story for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pompey writes that the city’s Chinatown residents continue to be adamantly opposed to the Sixers‘ arena proposal, and recently voiced their displeasure at a contentious meeting. “People are very frustrated about the developer continuing to promote their proposal without thinking about Chinatown people’s anger,” said Wei Chen, the civic engagement director of AAU.
  • Celtics big man Robert Williams made his 2022/23 season debut in Friday’s loss to Orlando. As Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe relays (via Twitter), Williams admits he was a little nervous before the game. I felt great. The nerves were getting me pretty bad before the game. We (bleeping) lost. We gotta bounce back from that,” he said.
  • The Raptors have fallen to 13-16 after dropping Friday’s nail-biter to the Nets. According to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star, the team’s front office is displeased with the up-and-down start to the season, and are keeping a close eye on how players respond while evaluating the roster ahead of February’s trade deadline.
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