Philadelphia 76ers ‘James Harden Doesn’t Feel Pressure Heading Into Qualifiers, ‘Ready to Jump Up’

CAMDEN, NJ — With his first postseason in Philadelphia set to begin Saturday against the Toronto Raptors, James Harden said he doesn’t feel any pressure to perform well for his new team.

“Pressure, no. I feel good,” Harden said after Thursday’s practice at the team’s facility here with a smile. “I’m ready to dance. Nothing to do.”

Harden will need to take on the Raptors, who have given him the right fit in two meetings between the two teams following the blockbuster deal that saw him travel to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons back in February. In those two games — both a 5-point loss for the 76ers, and both coming to Toronto All-Star Fred VanVleet and OG striker Anunoby watching in streetwear, Harden shot a combined 7 for 24 words. yard and 1- for 8 from the 3-point range while making nine turnovers.

When asked what makes Toronto such a difficult game, Harden said it depends on their performance and ability to defend together – not to mention having a squad full of long-legged athletes. .

“They just fly around,” Harden said. “They played really hard. They ruined the game. They had a lot of big, muscular guys, long and solid defenders. They used their length very well, and they just had to turn their backs on each other. They run around, they scramble and fly around defence, so for us we have to make, make sure we’re sharp in our passes and if the shot is available. , let’s do it. “

However, it will also require Harden to play at the level that Philadelphia hopes when they get him – a star-studded star that can win the playoffs. Another Philadelphia superstar, Joel Embiid, said he already knew what Toronto’s plan would look like: throw doubles and triples at him to get the ball out of his hands and ask his teammates to step up. and do the replacement.

He says it’s completely fine and as a result he will not go into this series to score goals, but instead make sure his teammates participate.

“I’m not going to go into this series looking for an average of 40,” Embiid said. “They’re going to take the ball out of my hand. So it’s all about me being really undeterred and trusting my teammates.” my team over and over and just playing to the right level.It doesn’t matter if it’s 10, 20 points or whatever, as long as we score, that’s my mentality, and it starts with All the attention they’ll be on me, I just have to make my teammates better.”

That includes Harden, who Embiid says needs to block the noise about his earlier playoff struggles. Harden’s career has featured a number of tough playoff appearances, including a loss to the San Antonio Spurs in game 6 in 2017 and a 7th loss to the Golden State Warriors the following year, both on the field. home.

But Embiid said his co-star just needs to be himself, and everything else takes care of itself.

“I told him to be himself. He is doing very well as a player but we need him to be aggressive and really score goals, especially against Toronto,” said Embiid. “Given the way they protect me, we’re going to need everyone. We’re going to need Tyrese to be aggressive with all the attention that’s been on me and James, Tyrese, Tobias, all the others, they have it. to act. He just needs to be himself and not worry about people talking about the pressure. Whatever has happened in the past, look back on what he’s achieved and what he’s achieved. he did, he had to play against a dynasty. Hardly anyone could have beaten those Golden State teams, the timing was so bad. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

The other thing that looks fine is that both Harden and Embiid made it to the knockouts in a healthy way. Embiid says he’s not “completely healthy”, but he is feeling fine, while Harden said the lingering hamstring problems that have plagued him since last season were not an issue coming into play. this time.

“That’s good,” Harden said. “I actually did some sprints and some hamstrings this week, so it’s been a really good week to prepare for this first round.” Philadelphia 76ers ‘James Harden Doesn’t Feel Pressure Heading Into Qualifiers, ‘Ready to Jump Up’

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