Sixers’ James Harden aiming to ‘hit singles,’ wouldn’t mind a meaner Tyrese Maxey

The Sixers get started their common season Tuesday evening in Boston about half-hour earlier than the Phillies start their National League Championship Series in opposition to the Padres.

James Harden gained’t be preoccupied with three-run homers. 

“I’m just happy to be out there, fresh and new season, and an opportunity to be the last team standing,” Harden mentioned after the Sixers’ apply Monday on the group’s facility in Camden, New Jersey. “For us, I believe it’s inside of this locker room, inside of this group, proceeding to get well each and every unmarried day. 

“We try to hit singles. Singles, singles, singles and ultimately, we’ve got a finished product at the end of the season.”

There’s at all times a sizable highlight on Harden, even if he’s subsequent to a 7-footer who’s completed 2nd in MVP balloting the remaining two seasons. With questions on his left hamstring not central, a common matter to contemplate forward of the Sixers’ opening-night assembly with the Celtics has been whether or not the 33-year-old Harden can each ranking and facilitate smartly sufficient for the Sixers to make a playoff leap forward. 

Given that bread and butter was once very tasty remaining season, head trainer Doc Rivers has been reminding his stars they gained’t regularly want to stray from the fundamentals. Lineups with Harden and Joel Embiid have been within the 99th percentile for offensive score (124.1) remaining common season, according to Cleaning the Glass. 

 

Harden’s non-public outlook is easy. 

“For me, I think it’s fairly easy,” he mentioned. “I think it’s just me having an attack mindset and an aggressive mindset, for the most part. Me trying to get into the paint and me being aggressive, whether it’s passing or it’s scoring, that’ll make it easy. Just be in attack mode for the full 48 minutes and good things will happen.”

Still, common catch-and-shoot possibilities aren’t identified to be in Harden’s wheelhouse. 

Embiid, who led the league in scoring remaining 12 months, wishes touches. And as soon as he has the ball, few fighters will dare to protect him 1-on-1. The Sixers be expecting Embiid to proceed drawing double groups and proceed bettering as a passer in opposition to them. His 0.63 assist-to-usage ratio and 11.5 turnover proportion within the 2021-22 marketing campaign have been each and every occupation bests. 

“It’s different for me, but last season I got a little glimpse of it,” Harden mentioned. “This offseason I attempted a little bit at taking part in off the ball, ensuring I’m able to catch and shoot and play off the catch a little greater than I in most cases do. But clearly everyone knows how distinctive he’s, how professional of a 7-footer (he’s). 

“As big as he is, to not only score the basketball but also draw so much attention, there’s only a handful of bigs in this league — or maybe even in the history of the NBA — that are as skilled as he is. I think for us, it’s putting all that together, whether it’s posting up or our pick-and-rolls, and attacking in the paint. And just creating a lot of shots for each individual. It’ll make our offense better and it’ll help our defense, as well.”

Though the Sixers went 4-0 in exhibition play, veterans like Harden and P.J. Tucker know preseason effects don’t actually subject. 

As for apply, all accounts counsel Tucker’s manner has now not been informal in any respect. 

“If you had to go up against P.J. Tucker and box him out every day, you’d be anxious to go up against somebody else, let me tell you,” Georges Niang mentioned with a chortle. “The ice bath has been a really good friend of mine, going up against him.” 

Tucker underwent an arthroscopic process on his left knee this summer time. He said Sunday that the knee is “still not 100 percent yet,” despite the fact that the 37-year-old didn’t sound desirous about his well being heading into the season.

“It’s just a progression of getting it as strong as possible,” he mentioned. “It’s still better than it was last year. I played with that all year last year. Just getting back to normal, it’s going to take time, and I know that. So it’s just keep working.”

 

Of path, paintings at all times turns out extra blissful when Tyrese Maxey’s round. 

“Being an older guy now, I love seeing the young guys come in,” Tucker mentioned on Oct. 7. “He doesn’t even stretch or not anything. He simply comes out and is operating up and down the court docket, flying round.

“I love it, man. He’s just full of energy, man. He’s always all happy and smiley and just ready to play. And he loves playing. To get that energy from the young guys, it makes me feel young.” 

Harden won a deeper sense of Maxey’s consistent cheeriness via their offseason exercises. 

“Man, I’m almost certainly the imply man at the court docket for our group,” Harden mentioned. “He’s simply so great, guy. He’s simply smiling. It’s like, ‘Tyrese, get mad one time!’ I believe he were given mad in our remaining preseason recreation. He were given driven or one thing and so they didn’t name a foul. He was once pissed. I want extra of that.

“You’re a nice guy, but you’re not under the radar anymore. People know how good you are right now and the potential that you have, so people are going to start pushing you around. … But all in all, he’s a really good kid. He works his butt off and we’re looking for big things out of him.”

More Maxey development and sensational chemistry with Harden from the leap would obviously be implausible for the Sixers.

Still, singles would certainly get the activity achieved. 

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