Sixers Notes: Melton, Rivers, Harden, Embiid

De’Anthony Melton had his best game since joining the Sixers – and arguably the best game of his career – on Friday night. The fifth-year guard established new career bests by scoring 33 points, making eight 3-pointers, and racking up seven steals in Philadelphia’s overtime victory over the Lakers.

As Kyle Neubeck of writes, Melton was a difference-maker in a game the 76ers almost gave away and continues to show why the team was willing to give up a first-round pick for him in the offseason. Melton is averaging 11.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 2.3 SPG in his first 23 games in Philadelphia (29.5 MPG), making 38.5% of his 3-point attempts and playing strong perimeter defense.

Melton has enjoyed a career year despite battling a back issue — he has hardly practiced at all this season, Joel Embiid told reporters on Friday. Melton has instead used the team’s off days to take care of his body and go through what he calls a “maintenance” process, according to Neubeck.

“I’ll take (Melton not practicing) every time if he’s going to show up to the game and do what he does every single night,” Embiid said. “He knows it, I appreciate the effort, because I find myself in that same situation quite a bit, and every single chance that I can even when I’m hurt, I want to be on the floor. So to be able to do the same even though he’s dealing with a back injury, I appreciate the effort.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • In two more articles for, Neubeck considers why the Sixers have been hard to watch this season and fields readers’ mailbag questions, discussing Doc Rivers‘ job security, among other topics. Although he doesn’t believe Rivers is a lock to make it through the season, Neubeck does think the veteran coach has “more security than people on social media want him to have.”
  • James Harden has been a Sixer for only 10 months and has played with Joel Embiid in just eight games so far this season, so head coach Doc Rivers is preaching patience, telling reporters this week that the pairing is “going to take time” to fully jell, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As Pompey observes, Harden favors an isolation-heavy style of play and is ball-dominant, while Embiid thrives when the offense flows through him. The duo had perhaps its best game this season as a tandem on Friday, totaling 66 points and 17 assists.
  • There has been plenty of speculation about whether Embiid will choose to play for the U.S. or France in the 2024 Olympics, but the star center isn’t interested in discussing his FIBA future during the NBA season, as Marc Stein writes at Substack. “I don’t want to talk about international stuff,” Embiid told Stein. “I’m focused on us getting better as a team and me getting better as a player. I’m focused on making it to the playoffs and doing something there. I’m gonna worry about the rest later. For now, it’s all about trying to do whatever is possible to win a championship.”
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