MINNEAPOLIS – As the Philadelphia 76ers prepare to finally see james harden on the court in his uniform for the first time Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 76ers star, Joel Embidsaid that Harden has been very different from the person he heard about before his arrival.
“I mean, it’s funny, you read all the stories out there, and all of that, and obviously we all see it,” Embiid said before Philadelphia practice Friday morning. “It’s completely different than what you see out there. He’s a great person, a great personality, always smiling, he’s fun to be around. Everything, really.”
“His presence on the team and on the court has really changed a lot since he got here. So I’m excited for that to continue on the court and I think that’s going to help us a lot.”
Two weeks after Philadelphia acquired Harden, and three weeks after he played his last game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, the 10-time All-Star is ready to hit the court after spending the past two weeks recovering from the hamstring strain that saw him miss the final three games of his time in Brooklyn.
But he didn’t appear on the injury report Friday, having fully participated in Thursday’s practice at the University of Minnesota, and appears fully ready as the 76ers begin a 24-game sprint to the end of the regular season. as they try to integrate one of the game’s biggest stars into their team.
And while this game has understandably been preceded by a lot of anticipation given Harden’s star power, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he hasn’t had to talk to his players about managing expectations and emotions before. of the star shooting guard’s debut.
“No, the guys know,” Rivers said. “This is a race now. There’s 24 games left or whatever, and obviously we’ve got something almost like a new team just by bringing in James. And we’re going to have to figure it out as we go along.”
“Speed dating, that’s what it is.”
The two biggest people who have to build chemistry together are obviously Embiid and Harden, who spent the end of Thursday’s practice shooting 3-pointers together and then engaging in a brief 1-on-1 game. Embiid even used the jump shot Harden’s patent – joking that he has a better one at midrange but still has work to do to match Harden’s prowess with the 3-point shot – but said he thinks the process of getting used to the superstar shooting guard’s game in the court will be simple.
He also said that he is impressed by how smart Harden is as a player for the limited amount of time they have been together.
“Well, it’s not my job to figure out lineups and stuff, but I don’t think it will take long,” Embiid said, when asked how long it will take for the team to gain the necessary familiarity.
“Obviously he’s a great basketball player, but he’s also very smart. And you add that with the players that we have, but at the end of the day he starts at the top.”
“We have to love him, I have to love him, he has to love it, and the other guys will follow. But I think it’s going to be a comfortable process and we’re going to move on.”
Ultimately, the 76ers will go as far as the Embiid-Harden partnership takes them. And while Embiid couldn’t help criticizing Ben Simmons speaking about Harden’s ability to fit in with the group on Friday, saying “it’s not going to be difficult… we’re not talking about someone who doesn’t shoot, or guys who are limited offensively. We’re talking about James Harden,” he said. that the most important thing is that everyone is aligned towards the same goal.
“It’s good for us as a team,” Embiid said. “It sets even higher expectations than before, it puts a lot of pressure on everyone, so I’m excited. I’m excited for everyone to play at another level, especially me, so I think it’s going to be fun.”
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Embiid: Harden is different from everything they say