The Philadelphia 76ers won their fifth straight game on Monday night, a 104-101 overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors. However, they likely would have had their winning streak snapped if not for the efforts of Tobias Harris, who returned to the lineup after missing the team’s previous game against Golden State due to back pain.
Maybe Tobias’ back hurts from carrying such a heavy burden on offense; he was hyper-efficient Monday night in scoring 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range (7-of-9 from the field overall). Philadelphia supporters also felt Harris should have had a sixth make for a potential four-point play, with P.J. Tucker getting whistled for a questionable offensive foul on a screen to waive off the bucket following a review. Regardless, it was Harris’ sixth-straight game sinking multiple threes and he is now averaging career-highs in accuracy (42.0 percent) and volume (5.5 attempts per game).
Much digital ink has been spilled to describe the sacrifices and adjustments Harris made to his game following James Harden’s arrival last season. It’s no secret he’d like to be more ball-dominant and explore all the areas of his offensive arsenal, and we saw how he could still be that player when he helped keep the Hospital Sixers afloat this season. But the current iteration of the roster needs him to be an elite catch-and-shoot player, so an elite catch-and-shoot player he has become. Tobias has put in countless hours on the practice court and during offseason workouts to make that vision a reality.
During Monday’s postgame press conference, Doc Rivers spoke to all the work Harris has put in:
“He’s playing right. He’s running the floor, I still think there’s times where we can get it to him in transition more. I think he’s so good in the open floor. He [Tobias Harris] dedicated this summer to be a spot up shooter making shots and he’s doing that. He’s got a quick trigger. You can see he’s worked on improving the quickness of his release—he’s doing that. He’s ready and that’s not easy. You know going four, five minutes and not getting into ball swings, that’s hard—that’s really hard. He stays ready so very happy with him.”
Teammate Joel Embiid echoed those sentiments in describing Tobias’ contributions in Monday’s win:
“It was great. He’s a star in his role. That’s what he’s been doing all season. Knocking down big shots, even the ones that got taken away for whatever reason. He’s been great.”
Monday night, four of Harris’ five threes came from the right corner, and all were of the catch-and-shoot variety. Whether off a kickout from Embiid or via quick swings from James Harden or De’Anthony Melton, Tobias is getting these shots off in the blink of an eye.
count it from the corner! pic.twitter.com/adI4CFQFbz— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 20, 2022
A couple of his makes against the Raptors came in huge moments. Harris cut the Toronto lead from seven to four points in the final minutes of regulation, saving a broken possession when Embiid batted the ball to Harris around his feet at the end of the shot clock. He also gave the team the lead for good in overtime at 104-101, when both teams were struggling mightily to sink a bucket.
On the postgame podium, Tobias described his mindset in becoming the player we saw Monday night:
“That’s just the mentality and the work that I’ve put in on all the off days and during the season and watching film and seeing very little details of how passes are coming in the flow of the game. The amount of time from one three to the next three, like all of these types of things go into preparation for the game, and to be able to make those shots, the timing of them, it’s great stuff that I was fortunate to get on top of this summer and even last year.”
However, I preferred his more braggadocious words in the heat of the moment right after the final whistle:
I’m telling you, friends, Tobias Harris is a sharpshooter. Now go tell a friend yourselves.