3 Takeaways From Harden’s Home Debut Win Against the Knicks

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)

The 76ers, led by Joel Embiid and James Harden, faced off against the New York Knicks in the second game of their home and home in Philadelphia. Harden made his home debut with a raucous crowd in the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers started off slow defensively but turned on the gas in the second half to cruise to a 123-108 win against the Knicks.

Harden’s House

James Harden has been tremendous in his three games with the Sixers thus far, and saying tremendous feels like an understatement. He didn’t disappoint during his home debut Wednesday night against the Knicks. His playmaking and shooting have really made a difference for this team so far. The Sixers were struggling offensively in the first half, and Harden carried the team while the rest of the guys got in rhythm. Harden ended the night with a near triple-double totaling 26 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds.

The 76ers desperately missed the passing and playmaking Harden brings on a nightly basis. Since the absence of Simmons, the Sixers missed that vision and passing the average player may not see. Harden has as good or even better passing and playmaking than Simmons, and it’s going to continue to make a difference for this team. He will have some off nights in the future, but his debut at home was memorable.

Bad Rotations

Although Doc Rivers was named one of the 15 best coaches of all time, he still makes some questionable decisions. With the arrival of Harden, he mentioned having two primary scorers on the court at the same time. Tonight, he played Harden with four bench players and inserted some questionable lineups. 

Rivers continues to play Furkan Korkmaz even when he is playing terribly. Korkmaz had a solid stretch to begin the season, but he has been downright unplayable when he isn’t hitting open jumpers. Rivers also continually plays Paul Millsap as the backup center even with different options available.

Paul Reed, Charles Bassey, or Willie Cauley-Stein all deserve a chance to win minutes with Embiid off the court. Rivers has had a history with rolling with veterans in his rotation and why the Sixers have been reportedly linked to free-agent big man DeAndre Jordan. Rivers needs to find the right blend in the rotation as the season races to a finish.

Finding His Way

Tobias Harris hasn’t been able to adjust to James Harden being in the lineup yet, and you can tell he is a little uncomfortable. The opportunities he once got are now limited due to those touches now residing with Harden. Harris has had more catch-and-shoot opportunities but has struggled thus far. 

Rivers went to Harris early in the early fourth quarter to try to get him into a scoring rhythm, running the same play six straight possessions. Harris ended the night with 14 points, increasing his scoring each game since Harden’s arrival. It may take some time, but Harris will adjust. For the Sixers’ sake, they hope it is sooner rather than later.

The Sixers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers next this Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:00 PM.