There are few superstars who can make a triple-double look as effortless as James Harden did against the Knicks in the second game of his Philadelphia tenure. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists and five steals while shooting 8 of 14 from the floor and 10 of 10 from the charity stripe.
It’s worth noting that his 16 assists were more than the entire Knicks starting five combined, and he helped players like Tyrese Maxey get easy buckets with his elite vision.
The biggest beneficiary of the game, though, was Cameroonian center Joel Embiid. He was the recipient of so many insane passes, including this nifty no-look dime on a fast break.
That whole sequence started with great defense from Harden, and his effort was rewarded by trailing teammates who were ready to help him on the break. The fact that one of those teammates is Embiid makes it so much easier. Embiid benefited from tons of those passes, and found himself shooting 23 of 27 from the free throw line because Harden kept finding him when he was in great positions, which in turn forced the Knicks to foul him.
That kind of unselfishness could help Embiid’s MVP case, because it certainly seems like Harden cares more about winning the title. He’d be probably be pretty happy with Embiid winning the award on the way to also winning the Larry O’Brien trophy.
It was a great game overall, and further proof that Harden relishes playing at Madison Square Garden.
Since we haven’t seen Ben Simmons suit up for the Nets yet, we don’t know how well he’s going to mesh with the other Brooklynites. However, two games in, it seems pretty clear that Harden will not have too much trouble finding a way to make it work in Philly. That’s a daunting prospect for an Eastern Conference that is already fighting a historic playoff battle.
One thing’s for certain: the Sixers are must-watch TV any time both Harden and Embiid are healthy.