Philadelphia 76ers fans were re-energized by last Thursday’s trade deadline deal sending out Ben Simmons (and Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and draft picks) to Brooklyn for JAMES HARDEN (and Paul Millsap). The team look energized as well, maybe not so much in Friday’s win over the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder, but definitely in Saturday’s 103-93 victory over the young, upstart Cleveland Cavaliers. Joel Embiid recorded the franchise’s first 40-point triple-double since Wilt Chamberlain. That performance coming against two of the better defensive big men in the league in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley was even more impressive. Speaking of which, any word on when memorial services will be held for Allen?
EMBIID THROWS DOWN THE HAMMER ON JARRETT ALLEN pic.twitter.com/6idJiQvsUt— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 13, 2022
Harden didn’t appear in either of those games as he rehabs his left hamstring, and unfortunately for eager Sixers fans, he won’t be suiting up for the Sixers until at least after the All-Star break. Still, the most important thing is that he’s here and 100 percent healthy when he does return to the court. Reports from practice yesterday were that Harden was able to participate in everything without restrictions. Looks good to me!
James Harden wearing Sixers practice gear: still very, very good at basketball ✅ pic.twitter.com/Oh5iYdPmQt— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 14, 2022
Still, it would have been nice to have Harden available tonight against the rival Celtics. Boston enters tonight’s game on an eight-game winning streak, climbing up from .500 to now sit at 33-25 on the season and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. While we in Philadelphia all greatly enjoyed the dysfunction from the Celtics over the first half of the season, this level of play is more indicative of what we expected from a squad with two young studs in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Brown trade rumors have died down now, but Boston did shake up the roster a bit at the deadline. Derrick White made his Celtics debut over the weekend after coming over in a trade with San Antonio at the deadline. White has come off the bench during his first two games with Boston, scoring 14 and 15 points. Boston traded away Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder, and Romeo Langford at the deadline, meaning the former Spur will play a pivotal role for the Celtics as they look to continue their climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.
I wouldn’t expect the Sixers to fail to get up for a game against Boston given the rivalry and the recent playoff history between these clubs. The Celtics won the first two meetings this season in Boston, before the Sixers won a stress-free 111-99 affair in Philadelphia last month. Still, teams do tend to fall asleep from time to time right before the All-Star break, and the Sixers could also be caught in a look-ahead position to when Harden returns. Don’t do it! Keep bringing the intensity and cut these surging Celtics down in their tracks.