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James Harden and Joel Embiid won’t be enough to propel the 76ers into the playoffs


When Philadelphia 76ers team president Daryl Morey pulled off the blockbuster Ben Simmons-James Harden trade to the Nets, the basketball world and sportsbooks were forced to take notice.

The 76ers’ odds of winning the NBA Championship immediately jumped from 12/1 to +750, with their odds of winning the East dropping to 3/1 on Feb. 10.

Harden didn’t make his debut until after the All-Star break, and the 76ers have gone 16-8 since. Despite having the seventh-best net rating in that span, the 76ers saw their championship odds drop past what they were before the trade to 16/1 at BetMGM with their odds of winning. the Eastern Conference currently at 8/1.

The market seems to believe the 76ers haven’t improved as much as expected with the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat leading the way to win the East.

Are the 76ers heading for another disappointing early season outing? Or can we trust the process to make a deep playoff run?

James Harden and Joel Embiid talk on the sidelines.
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NBA titles are won with superstars and the 76ers may have found their own Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with Joel Embiid and Harden.

In their first 20 games with Embiid and Harden in the lineup together, the 76ers were 13-7 with a net rating of +6.9, which is a substantial improvement from the net rating of +4, 1 that the 76ers had in games with Embiid and Seth Curry. . Although the 76ers went 24-12 in games with Embiid and Curry, they saw their offensive rating drop from 115.2 to 123.6 with Harden taking his place on the team.

Embiid has been a dominant force this season, averaging 30.6 points per game on 49.9% shooting while grabbing 11.7 rebounds and delivering 4.2 assists, a number that would earn him the prize of the league most valuable player most seasons. Those numbers have improved even further since Harden’s addition.

A big part of that success is the Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll, which has been deadly, generating 1.10 points per possession on direct plays in which Harden, Embiid or another player they pass to end the possession. That number puts the 76ers in the top 10 by Second Spectrum and we’ve seen the rest of the starting lineup benefit from Harden’s playing ability.

– There are concerns about shooting on this roster and whether it can translate to the playoffs. Tobias Harris earns $36 million for being a one-time shooter, a role he’s not particularly suited for.

Although Simmons was the bulk of the blame for last year’s playoff slump, Harris was the 76ers’ No. 2 scoring option as they downplayed Simmons’ offensive contributions. Needless to say, Harris fell short, shooting 2 of 11 in a critical Game 5 loss to the Hawks and 8 of 24 in Game 7.

Since being traded to the 76ers, Harden has shot just 40.2 percent from the field and has shot less than 40 percent from the field in eight of his 21 games with the team.

He’s also shooting 47.6 percent from 2-pointers and 32.6 percent from behind the arc, ratings that put him in the bottom half of all NBA players.

With Harden taking half of his field goal attempts from behind the arc, consistently knocking down the 3 is key to his success. He shot below league average (36.8%) in 13 of his 21 games with the 76ers while shooting less than 30% from deep in 11 games.

And according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Harden’s “blowout percentage” went from the 89th percentile to the 58th. Harden is still scoring 1.06 points per possession on his own, but it’s not uncommon to see more plays than usual where he can’t beat the big one on the switch.


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Doc Rivers is one of the most decorated coaches of all time and is 98-53 in his tenure with the 76ers.

Despite coaching some of the best talent in NBA history, Rivers’ teams have been on the wrong side of the NBA’s most historic meltdowns. They lost three separate 3-1 leads, three 3-2 leads and a 2-0 lead. He lost Game 7 at home four times.

Conclusion: The 76ers are expected to beat the lower teams in the conference and while they won’t be an easy win for the Bucks, Celtics or (gasp) Nets, sadly there aren’t enough around Embiid and Harden to make this team a legitimate competitor.

New York Post

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