Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and James Harden were never going to all score 20 points in every game they played together. But on some nights it might not matter.
No doubt the contributions Philly got from the bench tonight would help. Furkan was finally benched, and in his place Isaiah Joe and Shake Milton didn't look completely out of place. DeAndre Jordan was fine if unimpressive. Georges Niang continues to be one of the best value signings of the off-season, as the enlightened among us knew all along.
A lot of things from the first four game stint with James Harden weren't going to hold true, but it's pretty clear by now that he'll change how this team plays basketball. 14 assists tonight and every time he was on the floor the offense flowed differently, the ball whipping around more often then not. Neither Harden or Tyrese Maxey had particularly great games but that was again irrelevant because of the centerpiece of this team.
Joel Embiid is just so fun.
Do I really need to explain this? Embiid is leading the league in scoring, can turn on his defensive impact whenever his team needs it and has lead his team to a season sweep of a Chicago team that's not even 4 games out of 1st place in the East.
He's transcended to a different level of great. He nearly gave Tristan Thompson a 20 piece in the third quarter alone. So much talk since last seasons flame out has been about what the Sixers were going to build next and how that would impact Embiid. At this point, I'm not sure that matters. Put him next to someone tailor made to limit him, and he's a fall away from a potential MVP trophy. Have $70 million in salary cap working against him for a over half a season? That's fine, he'll come in every night, drop 30 and walk out with a win. Even finally being paired with a true superstar, Embiid has gotten even better. As long as the Sixers have 14 guys and Joel on their roster, they just might be a championship contender.
This roster isn't perfect. A hard nosed defensive wing in the mold of Torrey Craig is needed. Turning Tobias Harris' salary slot into anything that doesn't shot 40% on step back twos would be a success. And a reliable bench guard would also be a dream. Even with these flaws, is there a team you can say with complete confidence beats this version of Embiid, James Harden and an ascending Tyrese Maxey 4 times in 7 games? I can't. Go Sixers, and Good Night.