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Time For A Break: Looking Ahead To The Second Half

 

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By Michael Doctorovitz, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Staff Writer

The All-Star break is here. After 58 games so far this season, the Philadelphia 76ers are 35-23 and are currently the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The first half of this season has been a roller coaster ride but the Sixers have played well through all the drama and thanks to MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid, the team is in a good position heading into the second half. 

Keep in mind that help is on the way. That's right, in case you forgot newly acquired former MVP and 10 time All-Star, James Harden, has yet to play but is targeting a post break debut for his new team. Before we get too carried away let's remember that Harden will have to gel with this team and there are only 24 games remaining before the postseason. So what can we expect for the second half of the season?

Well for starters we can expect some good competition as we get our Embiid-Harden experiment underway. The Sixers still have to play the Phoenix Suns one more time, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks once more, the upstart Chicago Bulls one more time and the current #1 seed in the east, the Miami Heat, twice more. They will also face the Cleveland Cavaliers three more times and the Dallas Mavericks one more time. The good news for the Sixers heading into those games though: Embiid has not slowed down.

Even in the All-Star game, Embiid put his talent on display going off for 36 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. It is just the All-Star game but it shows that, currently, Embiid shows no signs of slowing down. 

The Sixers and Embiid needed this break though. Embiid has been nursing a right wrist injury and Harden still has been nursing his left hamstring tightness. The team does not play again until Thursday and all signs are pointing up. Embiid played in the All-Star game with no tape around his wrist, but we shall see if that continues, and Harden has made it clear that he feels good and he has been eager to get out there. 

Looking forward to the second half, it will be interesting to see how Harden meshes with his new teammates and vice versa. There have been stories in the past that Harden is a bad leader and bad teammate. Someone who is passive aggressive and points the blame elsewhere and can sometimes be a bully. So far we have seen none of that. Reports have come out that Harden has stayed later at practice to get shots up, he was seen on the sidelines coaching up Tyrese Maxey and Georges Niang during the Sixers' most recent win against the Bucks and in his introductory press conference he was very open and praised Maxey's work ethic. Sounds like a good teammate but time will tell.

 

Whatever happens after the break it will be interesting. Every Sixers fan will be on the edge of their seat to see if Daryl Morey made the right move and made the team title contenders or if he gave up too much for an aging superstar and set the team back a few years. It will take time to gel but all signs point toward an exciting second half of the season. Harden will bring more flow and versatility to the offense and can be a sneaky good defender at times. Morey also says the Sixers already have their eye on somebody in the buyout market but it obviously cannot be announced yet due to the leagues tampering rules.

 

Buckle up Sixers fans. This is going to be a wild ride to the postseason and one that could possibly lead to the first NBA championship in Philadelphia since 1983. 

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