Sixers’ James Harden shimmies, airballs three-point attempt
The NBA returned Tuesday night and so did some of its stars.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers opened the season against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, while Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics beat Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers as they attempt to duplicate the success of last season.
Embiid’s running mate, James Harden, also made his 2022-2023 NBA season debut, putting up solid numbers in a 126-117 loss in Boston.
Harden, looking in shape to start the year, shot 9-14 from the field for a team-high 35 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists in a quality start to the season.
However, there was one moment for Harden which he will not look upon fondly on.
Late in the second quarter, Harden crossed up Celtics guard Marcus Smart at the top of the key, sending Smart flying to the floor as the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year attempted to sell a foul with a flop.
Harden, now all alone at the top of the key, shimmied before launching a three-pointer, and hit nothing but air.
Despite the embarrassing airball, Harden looked rejuvenated after a wildly disappointing end to 2021-2022 postseason, knocking down five of nine attempts from three-point range and getting to the free throw line 12 times.
However, Philadelphia could not contain Boston’s two stars, as Tatum and Brown combined for 70 points on the night.
“Every team preaches we get defensive stops, we get out in transition, and we’re a better offensive team,” Harden said, according to NBC Sports. “Everyone feels like that. But I think for us, we have a chance of being really good on both ends of the ball – like, top-five is the goal. Right there, you give yourself an automatic chance to be the last team standing.
“Defensively, we weren’t great for the course of four quarters tonight, but we’re working our way in that right direction. Limit our turnovers offensively. Defensively, in transition we can be a lot better, and (then) we’ve got a really good chance.”
Both Boston and Philadelphia are expected to compete for the one-seed in the Eastern Conference.