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#pounditFriday, March 1, 2024

Joel Embiid shares the 1 big thing about James Harden that disappointed him

Joel Embiid holds a ball

Nov 27, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) warms up before action against the Sacramento Kings at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden was unable to help the Philadelphia 76ers get over the hump in the postseason this year. His play down the stretch was a major disappointment, and Joel Embiid did not exactly defend him after the Sixers were eliminated by the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

Harden took only two shots the entire second half in Philadelphia’s 99-90 Game 6 loss. He scored 11 points. Embiid told reporters afterward that he was disappointed Harden and the rest of the 76ers were not more aggressive.

“Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden. But that’s not who he is anymore,” Embiid said, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “He’s more of a playmaker. I thought, at times, he could have been, as all of us could have been, more aggressive. All of us whether it was Tyrese [Maxey] or Tobias [Harris] or guys coming off the bench.”

Embiid said he felt the entire team could have put in more effort on both sides of the ball. While he tried to make it seem like he was not singling out Harden, it is noteworthy that Embiid openly compared the version of Harden the Sixers got to the one that starred with the Rockets.

Harden averaged 21.0 points in 21 regular-season games with Philly. The Houston Harden that Embiid referred to averaged 30-plus points per game. Harden was even less effective in the postseason, where he averaged 18.6 points per game.

The 76ers needed Harden to take games over, especially with Embiid battling multiple injuries. Harden was unable to do that, which is one of the main reasons the Sixers are going home early again. They are now facing some major questions heading into the offseason.


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