USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Embiid, Harden explain how tandem works
PHILADELPHIA – By acquiring James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets at the 2022 trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers teamed the league’s best playmaker, Harden, with the league’s best scorer, Joel Embiid, and let them go to work.
The results have been encouraging. The duo has formed an elite pick-androll combination.
The Sixers’ Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics highlighted how dangerous the two are on the floor. Harden had 42 points, nine assists and eight rebounds while Embiid had 34 points and 13 rebounds. They worked in perfect harmony.
“The key for us is since we got him, I wouldn’t say I’ve allowed him, but I know who he is,” Embiid said. “I know how great of a player he is. I know how great of a playmaker he is, so I don’t post up as much as I used to and I think I’ve allowed him to just be himself and just have the ball all the time for him to just make the game easy for himself and for everybody else.”
Many times when a team has two stars, such as Embiid and Harden, the offense can devolve into a “your turn, my turn” type of situation. That is when an offense grows stagnant and play turns ugly.
Instead, the two have worked together while including their teammates and making it all flow.
“That’s one of the things in Game 2 and the last game (Game 3) that we kinda got away from,” Harden said. “The ball is gonna find the open guy when you space the floor. When you do the things that we need to do, it’ll find an open shot. Not only just me and Joel, but just everybody who’s open.”
That is the key for Embiid and Harden. When the ball is moving as it was in Game 4, the Sixers can be an elite offensive team.
“Once we get that, which tonight (May 7) we did that at a high level consistently, then that’s just great offense for us,” Harden added. “We gotta be ready to do that Game 5.”
The Celtics have to shade so many defenders and so much attention toward Embiid and Harden the Sixers know they can get a great look out of the two-man game between them.
“I just know every single opportunity our pick-and-roll can generate a good shot every single time if we really want to,” Embiid said. “That’s the next step.”