MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 25: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on before the start of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on February 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Dylan MacKinnon

The James Harden era in Philly is off to a fast start. But it will be put on hold tonight. Keith Pompey has reported that James Harden is out tonight vs the Heat.

Thankfully it is just a scheduled day off for hamstring maintenance. The Sixers have been regular-season champions last year. The goal this year is actual champions. While this game is important for seeding, the more important thing is that Harden is healthy in the playoffs. It makes sense to sit someone who has been dealing with hamstring issues the past two years on the back end of a back-to-back. The greater goal is bigger than this one game.

Still, Harden being out takes away some of the luster from what was supposed to be a marquee matchup. The Heat are the no 1 seed. The Sixers are two games behind in the two seed.

The Sixers are not the only team playing down a man though. Kyle Lowry, Markeiff Morris, and Victor Oladipo remain out for the Heat. Oladipo is still recovering from off season knee surgery, and will make his season debut Monday night. Kyle Lowry has now missed several games for personal reasons. Morris has been out with a neck Injury ever since Nikola Jokic shoved him to the floor from behind. Meanwhile both Jimmy Butler (Toe) and PJ Tucker (Knee) are questionable for tonight’s game.

All that considered, now that Harden is out, the line for the game has been drastically impacted. Sixers went from two point underdogs, to four point underdogs. Suggesting that with Harden Vegas may have liked the Sixers in an upset. But now without him, Vegas sees this as a loss for the Sixers. To win this one, the Sixers may need some more Tyrese Maxey magic like they got last night. 

A win could put the Sixers just one game out of first place. A loss however drops them to 3 games out. Tip off is at 8pm. Our coverage will start at 7:50 with Devon Givens and the Pregame show. Tom McGinnis takes the call at 8pm.