Doc Rivers Challenges Sixers Star James Harden: ‘No Thank You’

James Harden


Six-man keeper James Harden scored 32 points on March 29 against Milwaukee in one of his best games with the new team.

Doc Rivers has seen this scene re-enacted too many times. James Harden dribbled around looking for the opener but as the ball flew towards him, he made an additional pass. No, Harden needs to shoot it.

The Sixers don’t want the passive point guard, who played the second fiddle in Brooklyn. They need an aggressive attacking version who has won three NBA championship titles. That version was on full display in Tuesday’s loss to Milwaukee 118-116.

Harden finished with 32 points from 9/17 shots, including 4 3s. He recklessly crossed the lane and reached the free-throw line 12 times. Before the game got going, Rivers actually pulled Harden aside to talk to him about his role.

“We had a nice chat today, James and I,” Rivers said Tuesday night. “You know, he was just trying to fit in and attract people and I told him no thanks. Again, I said you start going and we’ll figure it out. We need you to be you. Don’t worry about the others, as long as you and Joel [Embiid] Being in the right position and getting the shots, we’ll figure everything else out.”

Harden confirmed the post-workout meeting with Rivers happened. Coach and player on the same page.

“We talked for about half an hour about everything,” Harden said. “He basically just told me, in a nutshell — just go out there and be friends. So that’s my kind of thinking today. It’s great to have that trust from Doc and here we are. ”

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Be ‘The Best James Harden I Could Be’

It’s funny to hear star athletes speak in the third person. Harden is the rare player who can do it without being obnoxious. The 10-time All-Star player knows the Sixers can’t win the championship if he doesn’t score. He’s trying to shift gears from Brooklyn, where he’s been asked to be more of a supporter to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“I’m trying to do the right thing,” Harden said. “I’m trying to be the best James Harden I can be. I’m trying to make sure I’m doing what’s necessary to help our team win, whatever it takes. ”

What’s happening in Philly is that Harden is procrastinating. Instead of breaking the ankle with his devastating cross, he will pass either Matisse Thybulle or Tobias Harris from the outside. His teammates want to see him take the shot. They don’t care if he’s a ball pig. Harden’s belligerence makes the Sixers a legitimate contender for the crown.

“That’s fine, but we needed to do it every night,” Embiid said of Harden’s belligerence with Milwaukee. “We need to find a way to win. We need everyone, especially him. So we need to be on the same page. Like I said, we’re trying to make sure there’s a chance to win, so let’s all do it every night.”

Rivers didn’t want to see Harden’s version of Brooklyn. Turn the page.

“We need you to think of yourself as a goalscorer,” Rivers said. “Not the way you are in Brooklyn where you are a point guard trying to run the team. We wanted him to be that James and tonight he was and that’s a big step for us.”

Late communication issues in the game

Everyone knew it would be a sprint to the finish line when Harden joined the Sixers after the All-Star break. Remember, this is a team built around feeding Joel Embiid and praying someone will stand up. They now have two superstars who are likely to come out with 40 points on any given night. The biggest problem was on the same page, especially on the defensive end.

“Honestly, I think it was an execution,” Tobias Harris said after losing to the Bucks. “Obviously, you can see that from the Phoenix game and today too, execution, composure. But two games we were in and we believed we should have won, so we had to go back to the drawing board and just figure out how we could increase our average. Defense, our communication, that’s the most important thing. And annoyingly, we’ve got some looks that don’t work for us, and we know we can warm those up. “ Doc Rivers Challenges Sixers Star James Harden: ‘No Thank You’

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