The 76ers may have won the James Harden trade after all.
Things are looking interesting in the East right now, as the Brooklyn Nets, prematurely coronated by some, after acquiring Harden to give them three elite offensive weapons.
Putting three stars together is a pretty reliable way to get yourself an NBA title, but it doesn’t always work — see, Thunder, Oklahoma City, with Durant-Westbrook-Harden for a relevant example.
None of Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving are defensive stars, so that’s a problem before we even get to the trio’s offensive viability.
Meanwhile the Sixers, who didn’t give up Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey nor a bunch of picks, are 11-5 and in first place in the East.
That breaks down as 11-2 when Joel Embiid is active, and 8-0 with their starting lineup healthy.
While the Nets were busy losing two straight to the Cavs, the Sixers swept the Celtics. Embiid scored 80 points in the two games on 34 shots. It was quite a performance one game after Boston’s Marcus Smart hilariously called out Embiid for flopping.
Ben Simmons helped put the game away with 11 points, including a pivotal five straight in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 122-110 win. Sixers starters shot 36-for-54, so the argument that Simmons hurts the offense seems a bit silly at the moment.
“I love playing with him,” Embiid said. “That fourth quarter starts on the defensive end, and he was a monster. He got a lot of steals, and then in the half court off the pick and roll he was attacking, he was aggressive and he made plays, he scored a couple baskets.”
Simmons has not only been the subject of trade rumors but constant criticism from writers and fans that he and Embiid don’t fit together.
“I don’t go on Instagram, I don’t go on Twitter, so I can’t really answer the questions in terms of what people are saying, because I don’t give a f—-, honestly.” Simmons said.