Takeaways from James Harden’s explosive Sixers Debut

NBA: FEB 06 Rockets at Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 06: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) looks at the basket before the Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers game on February 06, 2020, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

James Harden made his 76ers debut Friday night as they faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The entire city has waited since the February 10th deadline to see Harden suit up and he did not disappoint.

After an early back and forth first quarter, the Sixers gained control and never let go. The Sixers defeated the Timberwolves 133-102. Philadelphia was led by MVP front runner Joel Embiid (34 pts and 10 rebs), James Harden(27 pts, 12 assists, 8 rebs) and Tyrese Maxey(28 pts). Minnesota was paced by Karl Anthony-Towns (25 pts and 7 rebs) and D’Angelo Russell (21 pts).

Take a look at some takeaways from tonight’s win:

The Beard Has Arrived

James Harden’s arrival was much anticipated and boy, it was worth the wait! His impact was felt immediately. He brought shot creation and playmaking to a team that really needed it. He zipped passes around the court and could have ended up with more than 12 assists. He was able to showcase a two-man game with Joel Embiid that will only get better. We also got to see some of his patented iso step-back three-pointers. It’s only one game and Harden still has to grow with this team but this was a good start.

Parade to the Line

Joel Embiid and James Harden were top 4 in the league in free-throw attempts coming into tonight’s game and the trend continued. They went to the line for a combined 22 attempts with 19 makes. In total, the Sixers went to the line 36 times which is the 3rd most trips to the line this year (39 attempts vs. Timberwolves in November). 

Pushing the Rock

All season, the Sixers have been at the bottom of the league in pace without Ben Simmons in the lineup. With the arrival of Harden, it seems like an injection of pace hit the team tonight. Harden and Maxey pushed the pace and fast break in a way we haven’t seen too often this season. There was even a beautiful full-court pass between the two for an easy layup. If they can get more easy buckets in transition, look out!

The Sixers matchup against the Knicks in their next in a Sunday afternoon matinee on ABC at 1PM.

Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)