The Philadelphia 76ers welcomed the Dallas Mavericks to town on Friday night for an East/West matchup. Heading into the matchup, Dallas was red-hot, winning 10 of their last 12, including a thrilling victory over the Brooklyn Nets. In the end, Joel Embiid and company proved to be too much to overcome.
By a score of 111 – 101, the 76ers defeated the Mavs behind Embiid’s 32 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and five steals. An absolutely dominant effort from the Sixers’ MVP candidate led the way, but it was more than just his Herculean effort.
Harden Elevates the Bench
It’s been no well-kept secret that the Philadelphia 76ers’ bench leaves much to be desired. Coming into tonight’s game, the Sixers’ reserves had been outscored by nearly 100 points over their previous three games. There’s a lack of depth that is clear as day, which is why staggering the starters has become so important.
Head Coach Doc Rivers seems to be finding a rotation that works, and it starts with James Harden running with the reserves. Not only that, but running Harden with the bench allows him to attack without Embiid on the court.
In this game, Harden and Georges Niang were effectively swapped, which added to the spacing around Joel Embiid and gave Harden the keys to the offense. Going forward, expect this to be a common rotation as Doc may just have figured this out.
Harris Finding His Role with 76ers
In addition to James Harden and Doc Rivers, it seems that Tobias Harris is figuring out his role in the offense as well. Harris has been surrounded by nothing but questions since the Harden/Simmons trade finalized, but lately, he’s done a fantastic job adjusting.
Against the Mavericks, Harris shot 6/9 from the field last night, including 2/3 from three. That may not sound overly impressive, but that’s in only 24 minutes, and the bigger picture is his focus on shots from deep. Over his last five games, Harris has averaged 4.6 three-point attempts per game and is hitting them at a 60.9% clip.
Harris has struggled over this season, but as he continues to find his role, this 76ers team will only get better and better.