By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. They faced the New York Knicks who were looking to stop the momentum of Philly. The Sixers used an offensive explosion to beat them 125-109.
Philly jumped on the Knicks from the opening tip-off they were able to hit their shots early in the game. The playmaking abilities of James Harden has made life much easier for his new teammates. He was able to find them when they were left open, and they made the Knicks pay for daring to give them space. By half-time he had 10 of his 16 assists, along with 29-points and 10-rebounds. His addition has really unlocked Philly’s offense. The Sixers have gone from a slow and steady offensive approach to a faster paced offense. That has allowed them to get more people to hit wide-open shots. It also has made life easier for Embiid who should see fewer double teams now with the addition of Harden. The Knicks had no answers for him and while it is only his second game since the trade. He has made an immediate impact on the Sixers on both sides of the ball.
On his game and how it is meshing with his new teammates, “There’s nothing that somebody can tell me about my game. I put the work in. I go out there and produce. I try to be the best teammate that I can be every single night, simple as that,” said Harden.
Despite the playmaking and offensive explosion from Harden. New York would not be deterred they found in offensive surge late in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter to retake the lead from the Sixers. They were led by RJ Barrett (24-points) and Evan Fournier (24-points) who combined for 48 of the Knicks 109-points. Philly had no answers for both players. They both made them pay for daring to give them any space to operate. Barrett was able to get to his spots throughout this game. He attacked the paint whenever he wanted too, and it did not matter who the Sixers put on him. They were only able to stop him after putting Embiid on him when he attacked the basket to force him into some more difficult shots. They forced his other teammates to beat them and late in the game they could not make Philly pay for that defensive strategy.
Philly was able to pull away late thanks to some clutch baskets by Embiid (37-points) and an offensive surge from Tobias Harris (12-points). Harris hit a late three-point basket to put the game away for the Sixers. Harris struggled throughout most of this game but when it mattered most. He helped his team get their first victory of the season against the Knicks. He is back in a slump right now, but his scoring will be needed throughout the next 22-games. It is up to him, Harden, and Doc Rivers to find a way to get him more involved in the new offense. Once that happens the Sixers will be a more dangerous team heading into the postseason.
Philly now will prepare to face the New York Knicks in Philly on Wednesday night. They will need another balanced scoring night. Additionally, they will need to clean-up their paint and perimeter defense if they want to get their 38th victory of the season.