To be serious title contenders, the Sixers will need the version of James Harden that they got Saturday night, writes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Facing one of the league’s best defenses, Harden turned in a performance reminiscent of his MVP days in Houston. He had 38 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists and led a fourth-quarter comeback as Philadelphia snapped the Bucks’ 16-game winning streak.
“That’s what I do, man,” Harden said. “I’m just very comfortable in those situations whether it’s playmaking, whether it’s scoring. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Harden has been in the news this week for his upcoming free agency and persistent rumors that he will strongly consider a return to the Rockets. Hofmann states that Harden has been playing at an All-Star level throughout the season and his immediate focus is helping Philadelphia get by the other top teams in the East.
There’s more on the Sixers:
- The team has two injury concerns coming out of Saturday’s game, Hofmann adds. Tobias Harris didn’t finish the game because of tightness in his left calf, while P.J. Tucker suffered back spasms and was moving gingerly in the locker room, according to Hofmann.
- Even though he didn’t play, Dewayne Dedmon was in uniform on Saturday night, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The veteran center signed with the Sixers on February 14 after agreeing to a buyout with the Spurs following a trade from the Heat. Dedmon is ready for a fresh start after the way his time in Miami ended, but hip soreness has delayed his debut with the Sixers. “At the end of the day, it’s not about motivation,” Dedmon said. “I got mental clarity. For myself, that’s the biggest thing that I need moving forward in my life and my career. I need mental clarity and stability. For me to get traded from there was my mental clarity and my stability.”
- Georges Niang has seen his playing time reduced recently because of a shooting slump, but he drained 5-of-6 shots from beyond the arc Saturday. Before the game, he told Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer that the best cure for a slump is to keep shooting. “I just got to get out there and let it fly,” Niang said. “I don’t know how many games it is now, but I’ve had the feeling of getting out there and being like, ‘Oh, I want to get my elbow tucked. I want to do this.’ But I’ve been shooting my whole life. I’ve just got to go out there and let it rip.”