76ers blow out Clippers behind explosive performance from James Harden
In the final matchup between these two teams this season, the 76ers dominated the Los Angeles Clippers by a final score of 122-97.
Philadelphia got out to a lead that ballooned to 20 points in the first half of this game and to the surprise of everyone, they maintained that lead through the end of the game. All five starters scored in double figures, headlined by a fantastic offensive performance by James Harden.
James Harden gets back on track
Any concern around James Harden’s scoring should be put to rest after last night. He came out of the gate looking aggressive and it yielded great results for the entire team. The tempo and energy that Harden brought is what got the 76ers out to the big lead, and by getting everyone involved he made it easier for the team to stay ahead.
His scoring came in bunches, mostly in the first half where he made four threes en route to a team-high 29 points and season-high 15 rebounds. The stepback jumper was in full effect, and it’s clearly his preferred method, but Harden was getting downhill in the two-man game and scored on all three levels. A fairly efficient night for Harden as well, making 7/15 shots from the field and a perfect 11/11 from the free throw line.
Harden’s facilitation ability was on full display as well with seven assists. When he turns it on as a scorer, it opens up the entire game for everyone else. The Sixers improved to 10-3 with Harden in the lineup.
Joel Embiid pulling away in MVP race
Fortunately for Embiid, the team was able to keep him off the floor for a good portion of this game, and he was still able to drop 27 points and 10 rebounds in his 27 minutes of play. He took over for stretches, hitting every post fade in the book, and even expanded the range out to drill 2/3 from beyond the arc.
The progress in the pick and roll with Harden is evident, and Embiid is starting to look comfortable in the short roll position where he ends up getting a lot of open jumpers. As long as they continue to capitalize on that action, they will have a successful offense.
Embiid got his chance to dominate the lackluster frontcourt of the Clippers while still getting an early rest, which is the best-case scenario for all parties.
A very solid showing from the rest of the starters in this game, along with some help from the bench unit as well.
Matisse Thybulle was the third leading scorer with 13 points, catching lobs, breaking out for a couple of fastbreak dunks, and knocking down a jumper from deep range as well. When Thybulle is scoring in double figures it bodes well for Philadelphia, as they are undefeated when he scores 10 or more points this season.
Tobias Harris had a strong game as well, and while he only scored 12 points it was in all the right ways. He has been visibly more decisive in his attacks and has had a much quicker trigger on his jumpers. This confident, and efficient version of Harris has been great for the 76ers during this stretch.
The 76ers completed the LA Sweep and now move on to Phoenix to take on the league-leading Suns. The last matchup between these two teams came in early February with the Suns winning by five points, but they haven’t seen each other since the addition of James Harden.
That game will be the final one of the road trip before the Sixers come back to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Mandatory Credit: The Athletic