Tobias Harris’ has stepped up at the right time for 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) gestures after making a 3-point shot during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 96-88. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Since Tobias Harris has been in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, his role has been ever-changing. He’s gone from a second option to a third option and sometimes even a fourth option on any given night.

Last season after James Harden’s arrival, Harris struggled with adapting to his new role. This season, it was clear he would be counted on to be a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter. Just when he started to get accustomed to his role, injuries struck the Sixers.

Tobias Harris’ role continued to change throughout the season as Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey were out of the lineup due to various injuries. He kept his frustration to a minimum publicly, and his teammates and the coaching staff raved about his professionalism. The season prepared him for his role for this team in the playoffs, and his even-keeled play helped the 76ers sweep the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

Harris stepped up his game against Brooklyn

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris reacts after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In this series, the Sixers counted on Harris to guard some of the better offensive players for the Brooklyn Nets and have a quick trigger from three-point range on offense. He showed throughout the first round that he could adapt to whatever was asked of him. The veteran forward averaged 20.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game, all while shooting 57.1 percent from three-point range.

Harris had two really standout performances in the series against the Nets, Game 2 and Game 4. In Game 2, with Embiid being double and triple-teamed and James Harden having a rough game offensively, Harris joined Maxey to help carry the Sixers offensively. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds and helped hold Nets’ star Mikal Bridges to 6 for 15 shooting overall and two for eight from three.

Leading the way in a series clincher

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In Game 4, with a chance to close out the Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers were without their MVP candidate Joel Embiid due to a sprained right knee. Tobias Harris took this opportunity to make an impact and help lead his team to a series-clinching victory. Harris tallied 25 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Sixers in scoring while taking advantage of mismatches and punishing Brooklyn in the mid-post. He also stepped up to help guard Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, the Nets’ offensively cogs. When needed the most, Harris stepped up to the plate.

Tobias Harris has adapted to any role asked of him and deserves some flowers for how consistent he was during the first-round series with the Nets. The Nets tried to muck up the series by taking Embiid out of it, and Harris showed his worth. Regardless of Embiid’s availability early in the second round, the Sixers will need Harris to continue his strong play this postseason. If he continues to show up as he has, the Sixers will be in shape as they try to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2001.