MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Matisse Thybulle #22, James Harden #1, Tyrese Maxey #0, and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers high five during a time out against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third quarter of the game at Target Center on February 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 76ers defeated the Timberwolves 133-102.

There is a narrative that the Sixers have yet to face a real challenge with James Harden. It is a silly an false narrative, but it exists nonetheless. Tonight they have a chance to disprove that narrative as the Sixers face a test vs a young and impressive Cavs team.

So far with James Harden in the lineup, they average 128 pts per game. Small sample size, but its by far the most  in the league. Their three stars, Harden Embiid and Maxey, have all scored at least 20 in all 3 games. They have 82 assists in those 3 games. Harden personally has 37 of those. The offense is running smooth, and it feels as if every shot they take is a wide open look. Which would explain why their shooting efficiency has been so great. The new Big 3 has a chance to be the best in the NBA.

But since they played the Timberwolves, and Knicks twice, many have dismissed all that success. The Cavs however are 36-26, and the 5th seed in the East. They are right in the mix, and aren’t as easily dismissed as the Wolves or Knicks.

The last time the Sixers and Cavs met was without Harden, but Sixers still dominated. They won 103-93, and it was once of the most impressive Embiid performances of the year. He not only dropped 40, but had a triple double to go with it. The rest of the team did not have the best of games on offense, but good team defense, and a dominant Embiid, carried them over the Cavs. Now the Cavs will have to face the Sixers with another MVP caliber scorer, and a Tyrese Maxey playing at another level.

The play of Maxey has been the most pleasant surprise of these three Harden games. He was playing well before. Now he looks like a star. And the impact Harden has had on him can’t be over looked. Not just because we see Maxey now nailing the Harden stepback 3. But Harden is taking a role in coaching Maxey, to get the best out of him. When Maxey started out the second game vs the Knicks cold, Maxey said Harden approached him at half.

“James came up to me and asked me if I was going to play today”- Maxey told the media after the game.

Harden pressing Maxey is bringing out the best in him. And if Maxey is playing this well, on top of Harden and Embiid. Look out.

Tune into the Fanatic tonight when the Sixers face a test vs the Cavs. Our coverage of the game starts at 6pm with Draft Lines, hosted by Devon Givens and Jamie Lynch. At 6:50, Devon Givens hosts the Pregame show. Then it is Tom McGinnis on the call at 7pm. Remember to stick around after the game for the post game, and then In the Post, both with Devon Givens.

You may also be interested in:

Cooney’s Corner: Philly and James Harden are MADE for Each Other

The Sixers Are The New Villains Of The NBA



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