Sixers regular season Bell Ringer standings
James Harden - 2
Joel Embiid - 1
All the offseason talk was about which version of James Harden the Sixers would be getting. After four games, they have to feel damn good about the one they’re seeing. The Beard was brilliant yet again Monday night as the Sixers got their first win of the season over the Pacers, 120-106. As a team, the Sixers looked much more cohesive and organized on both ends of the floor. The bench even got into the act for the first time on the young season.
Let’s talk Bell Ringer, friends.
James Harden: 29 points (10 of 18, 5 of 10 from three), 11 assists, nine rebounds, two steals
After struggling against the Spurs on Saturday, Harden bounced back in a big way. The 10-time All-Star had everything working on Monday night. He was stressing Indiana’s defense all night, finding open teammates on his way to 11 dimes. He continued to use the midrange, a useful tool for him so far this season. He made a couple more strong drives that he frankly wouldn’t have had the burst and explosion to finish last season.
He even had a nice backdoor cut for an easy basket early as the Pacers constantly over helped on Joel Embiid all night. Harden being an effective off-ball mover could do wonders for this team.
But it was Harden’s late-game three-point barrage that sealed the deal for the Sixers tonight. Indiana had cut the lead below 10 with under six minutes to go in the fourth. Then, Harden got to work.
And we all remember Harden’s brick on a shimmy three attempt on opening night (Harden sure did and joked about it postgame). Well, a little redemption here.
Harden has been stellar in three out of four games this season. It’s just a matter of the team coalescing around him and Embiid. There’ still scary potential here with Harden playing like he has so far.
Joel Embiid: 26 points (8 of 13), five rebounds, two assists, three blocks
The assist numbers belie how good Embiid was as a passer and decision-maker on the night. Indy was as aggressive as any team we’ve see in sending an extra defender (or two) Embiid’s way and the big fella handled it quite well. Embiid spoke postgame about patience being the game plan coming in. After it felt like many of his decisions were predetermined through the first two games, it looks like Embiid is beginning to feel the game and react instead.
As a result, Embiid was finding easier baskets closer to the rim as the game went on. The Sixers jacked up 43 threes on the night, hitting 19. That kind of shooting will serve Embiid well and open up the floor.
Then he just has to attack the rim like he did tonight.
It also feels like Embiid’s defensive effort has been better each night as he gets himself back into better game shape after dealing with plantar fasciitis over the summer. After a rough two games to start the season, the two-time MVP runner-up is beginning to look like himself.
Tobias Harris: 18 points (4 of 10 from three), eight rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal
The number that stands out most from Harris’ stat line is the attempts from three. His high last season was nine. Same for the year prior. Harris hadn’t taken double-digit threes since his first full season in Philadelphia. Harris deserves so much credit for adapting his role to the star players around him.
And what’s great is the quick trigger from deep will open so much for not only Embiid and Harden, but Harris himself. You have to love the quick decision-making from Harris on this closeout and then his hustle to find a mismatch for another easy bucket.
Who is the Sixers’ Bell Ringer vs. the Pacers?
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