Sixers Vs. Pacers: James Harden Leads Sixers To First Win

James Harden posted 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a 120-106 victory at Wells Fargo Center over the Pacers. The Sixers improved to 1-3. Joel Embiid had 26 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

Embiid said that the fans might want him to be traded, but he feels no pressure. He thinks that the team took a big step today, both offensively and defensively.

The Sixers’ offense was good in the beginning, but they had too many possessions where the shot clock ran out while Harden was dribbling the ball.

Tobias Harris was the first person to score points in the game by shooting a three-pointer during a second chance. The Sixers kept shooting a lot of three-pointers during the first half of the game and they attempted 43 three-pointers throughout the game, which is the same number of three-pointers they attempted last season.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s analytical approach is one reason his Harden-led Rockets teams launched so many threes compared to the rest of the league. Harden is great at getting them off. He pulls the defense in his direction, which creates three-point opportunities for teammates. With Harden on their team, the Sixers should not struggle in terms of taking enough threes.

Harris said that the team reviewed their strategy at shootaround today with an emphasis on passing the ball and finding open shots. He believes that this led to their success in the game tonight.

The Sixers didn’t play well defensively at the beginning of the game. After a three from Harden, Jalen Smith scored a layup and was fouled, putting the Pacers ahead 14-13.

The team’s defensive effort improved, and they were also lucky that Benedict Mathurin cooled off at the beginning of the game. He had averaged 24 points and made 11 of his first 21 NBA threes before Monday night.

The Sixers’ bench quickly began to score points, reversing the early-season trend of opposing second units producing significantly more points. Against Indiana, they scored the game’s first 15 bench points.

Danuel House Jr. made a shot from the corner to give the Sixers a lead on his first touch. On the team’s next possession, he got an offensive rebound and scored a layup.

House has already shown that he is good at finding ways to have an impact that are not part of the plan. Of course, the Sixers also want him to be good at playing within their structure and executing the team’s schemes as they are supposed to. He still needs to prove that he can be reliable at that part of the job. However, House has shown at times why head coach Doc Rivers liked his two-way game enough to make him a part of the regular rotation right away. The 29-year-old made a nice play early in the second quarter when he pretended to shoot a three, forced the defense to move closer with his drive, and then threw the ball across the court to Georges Niang.

Niang scored three points in a row during the first part of the game. He did this by first helping Harden by blocking other players, then he ran to the other side of the court and shot the ball. They practiced this move last year and knew it would work well together.

The Sixers plan to have MVP runner-up, Embiid, work on getting into better shape by substitutiong him out in the middle of the first. Montrezl Harrell’s rim-running and chemistry with Harden were both helpful in his first stint. When Harrell sprinted down the floor and got a mismatch on T.J. McConnell, Harden recognized immediately and allowed Harrell to earn two free throws. Harrell went 5 for 6 from the foul line in the opening frame.

Rivers increased the number of players he used in the first half, one of whom was Shake Milton. This was Milton’s first action of the season. Later in the second half, Rivers played De’Anthony Melton instead of Tyrese Maxey with the Sixers’ starting players. Melton is most effective when playing with one or two other high-level ball handlers, as he does not need to worry about creating offense himself.

Paul Reed played for three minutes in the second quarter and stole the ball which led to a Harris layup. This made the crowd happy. He came back early in the fourth quarter when Embiid got his fifth foul. However, Rivers put Embiid back in with a little over six minutes left.

The Sixers should care about regular-season wins, but it makes sense to keep players like Reed, Milton and Matisse Thybulle in the mix. The Sixers’ “11th man” is better than the average team’s, so there’s not as much risk in being sure certain bench players don’t miss games.

Though they won in the end, there were several moments during the game when it looked like they might not. Basketball can be a game of momentum, and at times it looked like the Sixers were playing right into the hands of their opponents.

Rivers said that whether or not to call a timeout depends on how much time is left in the game. He explained that sometimes a timeout is necessary because several plays have led to a bad situation, as was the case in the previous game against the Spurs.

The Sixers started the second half by allowing the other team to score four points. They then almost allowed the other team to score three points on one possession, but the other team missed. Near the end of the third quarter, one of the Sixers missed a shot, making them 1 for 9 from the floor. Then, the other team scored. Early in the fourth quarter, one of the Sixers stole the ball from the other team, leading to the other team scoring one point and getting a free throw opportunity. The other team then scored three points.

After Embiid was called for his fifth foul, Harden made three shots from long range and one mid-range shot over the next five minutes and one second. Those shots won’t always fall–for example, Harden made only four out of eighteen shots from the field on Saturday–but it was good to have him making those tough shots on Monday.

I am happy for James Harden and we need him to be confident.

Now we just need to get everyone playing at the same level so we can win games, but it’s great to see him doing so well. He’s been playing at a high level and I know he’s been working so hard to be at this point, so I’m happy for him.

Leave a Comment