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#pounditSunday, June 4, 2023

Joel Embiid reacts to first game playing with James Harden

Joel Embiid holds a basketball

The Philadelphia 76ers spent an arm and a leg to acquire James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets in early February. There’s no certainty he’ll remain with the team beyond 2022, which means every game paired with Joel Embiid is of the utmost importance.

On Friday night, Harden made his 76ers debut and if the results are any indication of what’s to come, Philly fans have plenty of reason to be elated.

In a 133-102 drubbing of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Harden posted 27 points to go along with 12 assists and eight rebounds. But that doesn’t necessarily reflect just how impactful he was.

MVP-frontrunner Joel Embiid had an even better night thanks to Harden’s presence, scoring 34 points, while recording 10 rebounds and four assists. After the game, he couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear smile off his face, claiming it’s the most wide open he’s ever been.

“That was probably the most wide-open I’ve ever been in my career,” Embiid said. “I had a lot of easy baskets. I used to have to go for everything, but in the fourth quarter, the shot-making ability, shot creation…you should’ve seen my face. I was just like, ‘I’ve never had this,’ nothing close to it. So, hopefully that continues.”

Embiid wasn’t the only one thrilled with how things panned out. Harden said he was “extremely happy,” while Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said, “I try not to get too high or too low, but that was a good one.”

There’s a lot of excitement in and around Philly right now and the sudden momentum could carry them a ways.

Photo: 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


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