Philadelphia 76ers: Harden-Embiid duo has been as good as advertised

Philadelphia 76ers (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia 76ers (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid has been every bit as good as advertised for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

So far so good. That’s what the Philadelpiha 76ers have to be telling itself through the first four games in which James Harden and Joel Embiid have played together. During those four games, the Sixers are a perfect 4-0 and have been mightily impressive.

In four games together, Harden and Embiid are averaging a combined 57 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists per game. They’re also both averaging more than 10 trips to the free-throw line per game.

As a team, during the four games in which both Harden and Embiid have played, the Sixers have the best offensive rating in the league. Their defense also hasn’t taken a big dip and is ranked sixth in the league in those four games. Perhaps most importantly, the Sixers have the second-best net rating.

Harden has looked more like himself during the first few games with the Sixers and you can see that he looks like a rejuvenated version of himself – it’s quite clear that the honeymoon ended quickly during his time with the Brooklyn Nets.

Embiid was already playing at a high level even before the acquisition of Harden. However, knowing that he has Harden to help him carry some of the load will undoubtedly free him up.

And I believe we’ve already begun to see that and we’ll continue to see that. Especially in the playoffs when the game, and specifically winning, becomes more star-dependent.

It’s a shame that what could’ve been their first big test together as a duo was nixed due to a rest day for Harden over the weekend when the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat, but the truth is that this team – and this duo – will only be truly judged by what they do in the playoffs.

The Sixers didn’t acquire Harden to send a regular-season message to the East-leading Heat in March. No, they acquired Harden as a potential final piece in this team’s pursuit of a championship. Anything short of that over the next couple of seasons will be viewed as a disappointment.

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At least through their first few games together, the duo of Harden and Embiid have checked all the boxes. The Sixers have a real chance to win the NBA championship this season.