James Harden OUT against Heat for scheduled hamstring management
The last four games with James Harden fully healthy and in the lineup for the 76ers have been nothing short of fantastic. Now on the second half of a back-to-back, the Beard will sit out against the Heat as part of a scheduled rest for his hamstring.
The Sixers are on a four-game win streak since James Harden fully joined the team on the hardwood, and have looked near unstoppable in that time. The new 76ers big three of Embiid, Harden, and Maxey have been so lethal they are setting new NBA records. All three guys have each scored 20-plus points in all four games together, a streak never done before in the league’s history.
Certainly unfortunate that streak will come to a close tonight with Harden back on the bench, but it is always smart to keep your stars at full strength. Harden’s hamstring has been a major issue that started all the way back in last year’s post-season. James played through a grade two hamstring strain for multiple games in Brooklyn’s second-round loss to the Bucks. Harden then missed double-digit games this season due to another hamstring issue, one that he was able to fully rehab from while sitting out the first two weeks of his time in Philadelphia.
In his first four games, James Harden has been everything the 76ers needed in the backcourt. Harden is averaging nearly 27 points a game, but has been able to be that primary facilitator the Sixers desperately needed all season long. Harden is second in the league with 10.3 assists a game and is averaging 12 dimes a game as a 76er. Throw in his first career triple-double as a Sixer against the Knicks last weekend and it seems like James is back in form dawning the red, white, and blue.
The 76ers have made it clear that this was a planned rest day for Harden, and one can’t help be a bit frustrated that it comes against the top team in the East. The 76ers are just a pair of games back from Miami as the season winds down, and any win over a top team in the East could prove pivotal for seeding. Philly will get one more chance to take a game off the Heat later in the season on home court.
With all the injuries the Heat are dealing with currently, it makes even more sense to give Harden a rest. Back-to-backs are grueling, especially when it involves traveling between two stadiums in under a day. The Sixers already found success against a not full-strength Heat team before Harden joined the roster, and with the surge from Tyrese Maxey this last month a Harden-less Sixers squad shouldn’t just be written off.
The most important thing for this 76ers team is getting to the playoffs fully healthy and fully conditioned, so do not be surprised with Harden and Embiid getting rest down the final stretch of the regular season.
Mandatory Credit: David Berding