Harden Faces Former Team; Seth Curry and Andre Drummond Return to Philly since February trade
The game that 76ers fans have had circled on their calendar since February 10th is finally here. 76ers guard James Harden will play against his former team for the first time since being traded last month. Nets guard Seth Curry and center Andre Drummond will both play against their former team for the first time since the trade as well.
The 76ers are 5-0 in games with James Harden in the lineup and the only loss coming in a game that Harden sat out due to rest. Since joining the team, Harden is averaging 24.6 points, 12.4 assists, shooting 53%, and shooting 44% from behind the arc. With the addition of Harden, MVP front runner has had a double double in all but 2 games plus a 43 point performance against Chicago.
2nd year guard Tyrese Maxey has seen the most benefit from the addition of Harden. Maxey has averaged 24.8 points per game with Harden in the lineup. Having Joel play at an MVP level is requiring him to be double and sometimes triple teamed. By adding in an elite shooter in Harden, it is leaving Maxey wide-open on the wing. There were some concerns that by adding Harden, Maxey's numbers would fall. In the end they have risen. People wondered how the 76ers could replace Seth Curry and why the Daryl Morey refused to include him in a trade for Harden.
The ball movement has improved so much since the trade. Embiid and Harden have mastered the pick and roll to perfection. By mastering the pick and roll, this has opened up players on the wing. Maxey and Georges Niang have been able to maximize their strengths, by consistently being wide-open. Tobias Harris has yet to find his roll since the trade, however once he can learn his role as the 4th option, the 76ers can continue their dominance. Matisse Thybulle has shown improvements offensively. By being open more and given more space to make plays, his offensive numbers have slowly improved. We all know what kind of player Thybulle is and his defensive play has not missed a beat.
Former Sixers Make Their Return
Seth Curry will make his return to Philly tonight. Curry has struggled as of late, but looks to make a statement against his father n' law and his former team. Drummond has had a roller coast of a tenure in Brooklyn. Some games he plays like an all-star and sometimes he plays like a back-up. Hopefully we see back-up Drummond tonight.
Former 76ers free-throw underachiever Ben Simmons will also make his return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since giving up a wide-open lay-up, quitting on his team, and demanding a trade last June. Simmons very conveniently is not "ready" to play tonight. He will be on the bench for tonight's game. Fans have been ready for this game since February for his return. Simmons is currently trying to get back the $20 million he lost in fines for not playing for 76ers this season. He said the city did not support him. Not really sure what his argument is, but all I know is it is baloney.
Since being drafted by the 76ers, Simmons looked to have a lot of promise. However, after winning Rookie of the Year in 2018, he never progressed, did not work hard, and quit on the team. 76ers fans are rightfully hurt by his actions and he will be boo'ed as such tonight. I don't even want to keep talking about him. His time in Philly is done, we got the better of the deal, and I am focused on winning a championship with Joel Embiid and James Harden.
In the end the 76ers and their fans owe nothing to Ben Simmons. There should be no video tribute and no celebration of his time in Philly. He wanted to be "the guy" but he never wanted to put in the work. He got upset when he could not shoot a free throw in a playoff game and when he made a bone-head play in clutch time during game 7. I hope Sixer fans do not cross the line tonight. He does not deserve that. However, he does not deserve any celebration or thank you. He is a visiting player and that is how I will look at him.
But I am sure there is someone who feels the 76ers should play a video tribute to Ben. So if you are one of those people, watch this.
Keys to the Game
For the 76ers as always they need to get players that are not named Joel Embiid and James Harden involved. Tobias Harris has struggled since Harden arrived. Take advantage of the times when Embiid and Harden are being double teamed. Kyrie Irving is coming off a 50 point performance and we all know how good Kevin Durant is. The 76ers will need to control them as much as they can and take advantage of the times when they are on the bench. Finally, do not let the emotion of Ben's return influence the game. In the end he quit on the team. This is the opportunity to show him how dumb of a decision that is.
I expect big games from Harden and Embiid like we always do. However, watch for players like Maxey and Thybulle to have big games as well. There was so much talk of them being included in the James Harden trade and ultimately they stayed in Philly. So many people argued they should be included. This is their opportunity to show the world that they were worth keeping.
Level of Earthquake from Ben Simmons boo's- 7.9
# of bricks- 0 because Ben is not playing
Bell Ringer: This dude