PHILADELPHIA — After buying James Harden on the commerce deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers had been hoping this could lastly be the 12 months they broke by way of and made it to the Convention Finals — and past — within the NBA playoffs.
As an alternative, for the fourth time in 5 years, Philadelphia noticed its season finish within the second spherical on Thursday evening, shedding 99-90 to the Miami Warmth. Harden wasn’t an element within the sport, taking simply 9 photographs – together with two within the second half – and scoring 11 factors.
This led Joel Embid to say the 76ers did not get the model of Harden who gained the NBA Most Priceless Participant award, and completed within the prime three by voting three extra occasions, within the deal, and that he — and the remainder of the 76ers – weren’t aggressive sufficient all through the sequence.
“Ever since we received him, everybody anticipated the Houston James Harden,” Embiid mentioned. “However that is not who he’s anymore. He is extra of a playmaker. I believed, at occasions, he might have been, like all of us might have been, extra aggressive. All of us, than that is Tyrese [Maxey] or Tobias [Harris] or guys coming off the bench.
“And I am not simply speaking about offense. I am speaking about you realize, as a complete offensively and defensively. I did not assume we had been good defensively as a group. They took benefit of numerous issues that we tried to do defensively. After which offensively, everyone’s actually on the identical web page, clearly, most likely solely having what, three or 4 months to all work collectively and attempt to determine it out. Possibly it wasn’t numerous time…I do not assume we performed our greatest basketball.”
The 76ers actually did not play their finest basketball in Video games 5 and 6 of this sequence, when the Warmth efficiently chased them off the sector twice in a row to shut issues out after Philadelphia gained Video games 3 and 4 right here on the Wells Fargo Middle for even the sequence.
All through a wide-ranging interview, which served as each a post-game chat and an exit interview for the upcoming offseason, Embiid mentioned the loss couldn’t be attributed to any participant. specifically and that it was a second that compelled everybody on the roster to look within the mirror and discover methods to enhance.
“Everybody has to enhance,” Embiid mentioned. “It isn’t nearly me or [Harden]. From 1 to fifteen, there is a purpose we misplaced to Miami. It means we weren’t all adequate. So everybody simply needs to be higher.”
And, when requested to dig deeper into what, precisely, the 76ers want to enhance as a group, Embiid pointed to the group he simply completed taking part in — the Warmth — and mentioned that the 76ers wanted to get loads harder, particularly pointing to Warmth Ahead P.J. Tucker like the kind of man he by no means performed with in his profession.
“After all,” Embiid mentioned. “I imply, we have had a number of powerful ones since I have been right here. I bear in mind, whether or not it was Mike Scott, he did not play numerous minutes, however if you’ve received measurement and toughness, that is high-quality. A great distance.
“You have a look at somebody like PJ Tucker, an awesome participant, nevertheless it’s not about flattening photographs on him. It is about what he does. Whether or not it is defensively or bouncing the ball You look defensively, he performs with a lot power, believes you may get from level A to level B and he believes nobody can beat him and he is powerful, like he is simply bodily and he is powerful. And so they received a number of of those guys, be it Boom [Adebayo] and all these guys.
“Since I have been right here, I might be mendacity if I mentioned we have had, you realize, these form of guys. Nothing towards what we now have. It is simply the reality. We have by no means had PJ Tucker. is admittedly what I am making an attempt to say. [increases], particularly when you get to the playoffs or later rounds, you want it. You want these guys who’re actually powerful.”
And, along with speaking about Tucker, Embiid reaffirmed his affection for the Warmth star. Jimmy Butlerhis teammate for a number of months right here three years in the past earlier than becoming a member of Miami this offseason.
It was three years in the past on Thursday, in actual fact, that Philadelphia’s season resulted in Recreation 7 in Toronto on Kawhi Leonardis shot endlessly — the one time Embiid and Butler have teamed up within the playoffs. Embiid admitted he wished he had extra playoff alternatives with Butler.
“Clearly he is my man,” Embiid mentioned. “He is my brother. Oh man, it is onerous. However I am so happy with him. He is taking part in at an unreal degree proper now. He is one thing else proper now. I am proud that he is at that degree and that he wears them and what he is been in a position to do. They’ve had ups and downs all season. Lacking guys, not wholesome, and, they nonetheless discovered a option to be the primary group within the East and to have the ability to are available in and do what “They did, they deserve numerous credit score. They’ve an awesome group, nice guys total. And clearly nice coaching and an awesome assault on offense. A lot credit score to them.
“Like I mentioned, I am glad for him. I imply, I am not going to take a seat right here and say I did not need him to be my teammate. I nonetheless do not know the way we received him. let go. I want I might nonetheless go into battle with him. However it’s what it’s. I simply should preserve constructing and preserve making an attempt to attain that purpose.
Whereas Embiid does not play with Butler, he does play with Harden, who noticed one other disappointing postseason finish together with his disappearing act in Recreation 6. Harden took simply two photographs within the second half – the second arriving very late. within the fourth quarter, after the match was already determined.
When requested what made him disappear offensively, Harden replied: “‘We directed our assault. The ball simply did not come again to me.”
However relating to his future in Philadelphia, Harden had a bit extra to say. With a participant choice of $47 million this offseason, Harden has a alternative to select that up and lock that cash in, choose it up and lengthen it with the 76ers or flip it down and signal some place else or signal a brand new contract. .
Whichever choice he chooses, nonetheless, Harden mentioned he would select to play right here.
“I will be there,” Harden mentioned.
When requested if he would take much less cash, he added: “Something that enables us to continue to grow and enhancing and doing the issues essential to win and compete at a excessive degree.”
What is obvious is that the 76ers will want greater than they should compete on the degree they hope. After the sport, 76ers coach Doc Rivers repeatedly mentioned that this group “wasn’t adequate” to beat the Warmth and mentioned the roster wanted to enhance.
And, along with Embiid’s feedback that Philadelphia’s toughness wants to enhance, Harris mentioned the group’s psychological toughness was a difficulty towards Miami.
“It isn’t simple to repair,” Harris mentioned. “However I feel that simply comes with the intention. Each man for himself with the intention that you just come into the sport, with the power that you just are available in with, I feel that is an enormous a part of that. is one thing that we have, I’ll say, all through this 12 months we have proven in lots of video games how nice we will be and we have proven when issues are going nicely how robust we’re mentally. assume you realize, however, we did not do an awesome job when issues weren’t going our manner.”
Now the 76ers can have an extended offseason to assume that’s not going their manner, and all of the ramifications of that being the case.
Embiid, in the meantime, mentioned he nonetheless expects to have surgical procedure on the torn ligament in his proper thumb, however does not count on to want it for his facial fracture. And he admitted that after coming by way of the common season wholesome for the primary time in his profession, he was disenchanted his season ended with a number of accidents stopping him from acting at his finest.
“I do not remorse it as a result of that is life,” Embiid mentioned. “It occurs. You simply should cope with it. It sucks. Not making excuses. Nevertheless it’s simply details. It sucks. I do not assume anybody will consider that I used to be 100%. So it fears occurring stage and never being your self, not with the ability to do what you need, and your physique does not mean you can simply be your self. So it sucks, however I’ve no remorse.”