24 regular season games remain for the 35-23 Philadelphia 76ers exiting the All-Star break, and as they retake the floor tonight in Minnesota, one question is on everyone’s mind: What will these new Sixers look like as they welcome James Harden into the fold?
Daryl Morey had hinted at tonight being Harden’s debut with the club:
And The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed it yesterday:
10-time NBA All-Star James Harden will make his Philadelphia 76ers debut on Friday at Minnesota.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 24, 2022
So what are the Sixers getting in Harden? For one thing, a slimmed-down version, as we saw earlier in the week at practice:
As for everything else with his meshing with Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and the rest of the roster, we’ll have to wait and see. Nevertheless, Sixers fans could be in store for history this evening. Liberty Ballers’ Josh Grieb discussed the top debuts in Sixers franchise history yesterday. Will James Harden join the ranks? I can’t wait to find out.
Even aside from Harden taking the floor and everything that entails, tonight should be a fun contest. The Wolves are 32-28, good for seventh in the Western Conference. They defeated Memphis last night, 119-114, so the Sixers have the rest advantage coming into play tonight. Minnesota is looking to make the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2018, the lone full season with Jimmy Butler in the pack.
Like the Sixers, Minnesota is led by their All-Star center. Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns looked to have buried the hatchet over All-Star Weekend...
But the feud could always reignite on the hardwood with Joel looking to raise the KAT once again. To his credit, Towns is having an excellent season, averaging 24.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks, with .521/.410/.815 shooting splits. Minnesota head coach Chris Finch said earlier this week that he wanted to use Towns in the post more going forward, which is weird for a guy shooting over 40 percent from three on over five attempts per game and just won the All-Star Weekend 3-Point Contest. Tonight against Joel might not be the time to re-establish KAT on the interior.
Anthony Edwards joins Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey in this game as players having excellent sophomore seasons. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft is averaging 21.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.5 steals, having upped his shooting efficiency from his rookie year (.417 to .432 from the field overall, .329 to .351 from behind the arc). He has been struggling lately, though, shooting 4-of-29 from the field across his last three games, including 1-of-11 last night. Still, not only is he one of the more fun interviews in the league, but Edwards is one of the rare players capable of either hitting 10 threes in a game or unleashing absolute hellfire at the rim:
DUNK OF THE YEAR !!!— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) February 20, 2021
ANTHONY EDWARDS ASSASSINE YUTA WATANABE pic.twitter.com/WcvQBZco6y
Minnesota was one of the teams most rumored to be pushing heavily to trade for Ben Simmons. Ultimately, their draft pick-heavy package was not as enticing as JAMES HARDEN. Still, not mortgaging everything to complete their core with Simmons may prove the better path for Minnesota. The future is finally looking brighter for the Wolves, but we’re all about the present in Philadelphia, and presently, we want to see James Harden take the floor for the Sixers. Tune in tonight to see it happen!