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Sixers Bell Ringer: James Harden smashes Timberwolves, and his 76ers debut

Step-backs, floaters, four-point plays, oh my.

Philadelphia 76ers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Sixers Bell Ringer regular season standings:

Joel Embiid: 26

Tyrese Maxey: 12

Seth Curry: 8

Tobias Harris: 4

Andre Drummond: 3

Matisse Thybulle: 2

Furkan Korkmaz: 1

Charles Bassey: 1

Paul Millsap: 1

There’s been an electric, Kool-Aid, acid test-worthy vibe around the streets these days. Get this, my buddy walks into ReAnimator Coffee in Fishtown, right? Says he overheard some hipster order a “double-step back macciato” and the barista didn’t flinch, somehow knew exactly what to make! Another dude in bell-bottoms and a huge beard got to skip the whole buffet line at Essene down on 4th St. And this one girl Amanda who loves yoga and puppies, she climbs up and paints “Beard St.” over “Broad St.” in broad daylight and nobody even cared. They just cheered her on.

There’s something in the air right now. Let’s ring some bells!

James Harden, who is a Sixer: 27 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds, game high +35, 5 of 7 from 3, 8-9 from the line, in 35 minutes

There was so much buzz heading into this game, and Harden’s jersey was even the top selling uni in the league following the trade. His first game was unreal.

Harden’s first bucket as a Sixer was thrilling. James put a Tim Hardaway Sr. style killer cross-over on 20 year-old athletic phenom Anthony Edwards, displaying just enough of that burst you kept hearing had left his legs. Then the ASU product finished the and-one over a former teammate in Pat Beverley.

He played a little pick-and-roll with Joel, getting into the lane for a patented floater. He worked a little dribble-handoff action with the big fella too, that freed him up for an open three.

He was efficient and unselfish and looks like he might stay in the hunt for that assists per game crown; despite undying rumors he’s a selfish player. The Sixers totaled 30 dimes and there was some contagious selflessness Harden may have introduced to the team early on.

At one point in the third, the Wolves went to a zone, something that has plagued this Sixers team for years, and they got nothing out of it from their passing. But they cleared out for Beard as the shot clock wound down and he drained a completely contested step back three for his 20th point of the night. That put Philly up by 25.

He would go back to the same move not long after, finishing his second four-point play of the night.

Imagine that, the Sixers very own one-man zone beater? Karl-Anthony Towns just had to smile after fouling him on one that went in anyway.

Joel Embiid: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 11-13 from the line

Embiid found his rhythm by getting to the free throw line early and often. That may have helped him line up his three pointers. Joel went 3 of 5 on those, showing plenty of pop on his first pick-and-pop action with The Beard.

The new rotations got Joel some floor spacing. At one point Embiid was flanked by a battalion of Danny Green, Georges Niang, Furkan Korkmaz and Tyrese Maxey. Joel made the early pass out of the post and it worked all the way around the horn on occasion.

Embiid “only” had 14 points at the half, but before I looked up, he had a 13-point, one-assist third quarter and suddenly the Sixers were up 25. And he kept chugging as needed until this one was in the books.

Tyrese Maxey: 28 points, 4 steals, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 12 of 16 from the floor, 2 of 3 from deep

Tyrese Maxey had some Matisse Thybulle-like plays defensively. His three first-half steals were all of the “wow, wait was that Maxey, I thought that was Thybulle” variety. He was very disruptive there.

Maxey also got out and ran for some easy buckets without the aide of generated live-ball turnovers, simply blazing down the floor faster than the rest.

At one point late in the game, ‘Rese hit back-to-back floaters. In closing minutes, Harden faked a patented step-back triple, but swung it instead to Maxey, who dusted a flatfooted D’Angelo Russell, who may still need to be shown a replay before he figures out what happened.

If we’re really cautious and refuse to get too excited, we might think something like this: I was worried Maxey might defer too much with all of that star power out there, but tonight’s game was a strong indicator he’s going to maintain aggression.

If we throw caution to the wind, and go all glass-half-full, we might think something like this: just one game in demonstrated that defenses are going to be incredibly focused on slowing Joel and James, so they simply cannot properly account for Maxey’s speed. That’s what we saw tonight.

Maxey provided some complementary turbo yin to Harden’s more formulaic yang all night long and everyone seemed to have a blast.

Poll

Who is the Bell Ringer in James Harden’s Sixers’ debut?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    James Harden
    (1957 votes)
  • 8%
    Joel Embiid
    (191 votes)
  • 9%
    Tyrese Maxey
    (233 votes)
2381 votes total Vote Now