The Sixers need an aggressive James Harden coming down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Since the addition of Harden, the Sixers are 8-2 and have looked great except for one thing.
The Sixers have gotten off to some seriously slow starts in the James Harden era, it seems as if every game the Sixers are attempting to fight their way back into the game in the second half.
While there is certainly something to be said for the team playing hard till the final whistle blows, it’s not a good habit to get into. This might work out against teams like the Cavaliers and the Knicks but it is a recipe for disaster come playoff time. Younger teams tend not to know how to win but against teams like the Bucks and the Heat, it’s going to be very difficult to scratch and claw your way back into the game in the second half.
One thing that has been missing in these slow starts is Harden’s aggressiveness. Harden seems to be a little too pass-happy in moments where he should probably be the one taking the shot. The Sixers do not need Harden to be the player that he was in Houston and taking 20+ shots per game but they do need Harden to be more aggressive than he has been. Harden is second in the league in assists which is great but when Embiid isn’t on the floor the offense should be running through Harden and not focus on getting open looks for other players using Harden’s passing ability.
Harden should not be getting out-shot by players like Georges Niang and Tobias Harris on a nightly basis. He is the type of player that has the ability to take over a game, so he needs to do that when called upon.
Unfortunately, Harden and the Sixers are being forced to gel together as quickly as possible as the playoffs are right around the corner. Doc Rivers has voiced his displeasure and has spoken about how he’d even like to see Harden be more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball.
This is all a work in process, and 8-2 in their last 10 games is certainly nothing to scoff at but there is definitely room to improve. We have seen slow starts and sloppy basketball since the acquisition so the rest of the season should be about fine-tuning the offense and limiting mistakes down the stretch so they can be a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
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