James Harden was right, Thursday night’s debacle against the Brooklyn Nets was good for the Sixers.
Expectations skyrocketed for the Sixers as soon as the Harden-Simmons trade broke. It was a mix of excitement and relief as the Sixers not only acquired one of the league’s best players but they ridded themselves of an ugly Ben Simmons situation.
It was clear that Simmons wasn’t going to step foot on the court on Thursday night when he returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since last year’s playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. However, something strange happened that night.
The Nets rallied around Simmons and embraced the villain’s attitude as the boos poured down from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and former 76er, Seth Curry all stepped up as the Nets routed the Sixers to win by almost 30 points.
This reality check was necessary for a Sixers team that is suddenly beatable. Harden, one of the league’s most lethal scorers only managed 11 points and at one point was 1/12 from the field against his former squad. Second year sensation Tyrese Maxey also disappeared only putting up four points on seven shots. The Sixers big 3 failed to show up and all of a sudden it looked like it was just Joel Embiid again.
The Sixers are good, but they are not world beaters yet. The trio of Embiid, Harden and Maxey need time to play together, and in their sixth game together got iniliated in the biggest game of the season. Luckily, these growing pains are coming now rather than in the playoffs. The new look Sixers still have time to grow together and should only continue to go up from here.
The loss to the Nets stings, there is no doubt about that but the Sixers now have a chip on their shoulder. It’s easy to be discouraged but the track record of Embiid and Harden shouldn’t be taken for granted. They are two of the league’s top scorers and Harden’s ugly game should be taken with a grain of salt.
It’s okay if the Sixers don’t get the top seed in the East, we saw last year that just because you’re the number one seed does not mean you are unbeatable. Down the stretch, all that matters is that Embiid, Harden, and Maxey play together as much as physically possible in preparation for a playoff run. There will be many big games to come that the Sixers can redeem themselves, it’s only a matter of time.
Photo via Bruce Kluckhohn from USA TODAY