Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce got into a headed debate on the Top 5 players…
James Harden spoke with the media before the Philadelphia 76ers started their 2023 playoff run against the Brooklyn Nets and told everyone how much better he felt heading into this year’s playoffs than last year.
James Harden on this year’s playoffs compared to last year
“I’m excited, man. My energy, my pace, my aggressiveness is gonna be better. I’m just more comfortable, more confident in what I’m supposed to be doing out there.”
Harden then took the court yesterday and lived up to his word, as the Philadelphia 76ers took a 1-0 series lead against the Nets, winning 121-101 in what was basically a wire-to-wire victory in South Philadelphia.
As a team, the Sixers set a franchise record for most three pointers made in the playoffs, connecting on 21 of 43 attempts from beyond the arc.
James Harden scored 23 points on 8-of-21 shooting and did most of his damage from beyond the arc, knocking down 7-of-13 from long range, including five 3s in the first half.
Along with seven 3-pointers, Harden added 13 assists and was incredible providing relief for Joel Embiid, who was double and triple teamed throughout the game.
JAMES HARDEN: 23 PTS | 13 AST | 4 REB | 1 STL
Following the win, Harden spoke with the media about his Game 1 performance.
“Just trying to be aggressive,” Harden said afterward. “They were double-teaming Joel (Embiid) so somebody else has got to make shots and be aggressive. Just put the work in. You live with the results and I made some shots.” via SixersWire
“I couldn’t make a layup, but that’s the least of my worries,” Harden added. “My legs, my body feels just powerful, I feel strong. There was a stint where I played I think 13 minutes straight from the end of the first quarter and then the whole second quarter and I felt really good. The work that I put in and this is the reason for it.”
Joel Embiid also spoke about Harden’s performance after the game as he took the podium with his son Arthur.
"Like I said, he's the best playmaker in the league by far. But we don't want him — I certainly don't want him — to fall in love with just that. We need him to be aggressive."
Joel Embiid on James Harden
“He looked great,” Embiid said of Harden. “Just like I said, just dribble penetration, setting up guys, his shot looks great from 3. He got his shot blocked a few times at the rim, but it’s gonna happen and I’m sure next time, he’s gonna finish it, but he looks amazing, and that’s great to see.”
“He’s the best playmaker in the league by far, but I don’t want him to fall in love with just that,” Embiid explained. “We need him to be aggressive and he was today. Just attacking and by him attacking, he collapses the defense, and creates open shots for everybody else. P-Reed playing in the dunker, easy drop-off passes. So I think the key is not just being a playmaker. Just being aggressive and going downhill and creating for himself and everyone else.”
This is exactly what the Philadelphia 76ers need if they want to make a deep playoff run this season. Along with Harden, Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker were fantastic, which helped guide the Sixers to an easy win.
Tobias Harris finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor, including a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Harris added four rebounds, four assists, and a block on the day, playing one of his best games on both sides of the court that really haven’t seen in a while.
As for “Playoff PJ” Tucker, he also played arguably his best game in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform scoring six points with seven rebounds (five offensive), two assists, and FIVE steals.
The Sixers will host the Nets tomorrow night for Game 2, looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
On Thursday night, I’ll be at Bankroll Philly with Sean Brace and Buster from Q102 broadcasting live for Game 3 in Brooklyn. If you’re in the city, come hangout. We’ll watch the Sixers, talk some shit, and I’ll have a bunch of t-shirts on me from the shop to give out. Should be fun.