The Sixers took down Portland in an impressive 126-98 victory in their home opener. James Harden attended Sunday Night’s game in street clothes as he awaits clearance to play after his conditioning ends. Philadelphia cruising by Portland was thanks to an incredible game by Joel Embiid, with Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris also doing their part to win. Philly gets a 3-day break after this comfortable win, not playing until Thursday Night in South Philly against the Raptors.
What was the game-changer for the 76ers?
Joel Embiid played like an MVP on Sunday and really showed why he won that award last season. Embiid put up 35 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 blocks, and 2 steals with a plus-minus of 28 in only 29 minutes. This is simply astounding. Games like this don’t happen by just anyone, they come from players who are generational talents. According to NBCSP, only 3 other players have scored multiple 35 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 block games. Those players are Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal. A short, but legendary list.
Tobias Harris also had a great game, his first of the season. He scored 24 points along with snagging 5 rebounds in 38 minutes of play. While this is impressive, the stat that is even more astonishing is his plus-minus of 31. This was the most of anyone on the court, even with Embiid’s 35 points and 7 assists. Harris really has to prove himself this season, as he has had continued criticism from media and fans alike for not living up to his contract. Almost $38 million will be in the pocket of his by the time this season ends and he needs to show that he is worth that. Superstar players making less than this include Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Tobias doesn’t have to play as well as these players, but definitely needs to excel to be at least an All-Star-level player.
Tyrese Maxey put up a double-double against the Trailblazers and is on an absolute tear to start the season. 26 points, 4 assists, and 10 rebounds for Maxey is exactly what is needed for this team to move over the mediocre tier the media has Philadelphia in. No James Harden for the moment has been what Tyrese Maxey has needed to show that he is a star in the NBA. As much as Harden is a great player, he is holding back Maxey without a doubt.
The momentum from this outstanding win by Philadelphia hopefully will transfer to Thursday’s game against Toronto at 7:00 P.M. EST in Philadelphia.