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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 24: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles during the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Wells Fargo Center on October 24, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Through nine games of the 2022-23 season, the Philadelphia 76ers have gotten off to somewhat of a disappointing start with a 4-5 record. After Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, things just got a little tougher for the Sixers as they will now be without one of their best players. 

According to ESPN’s NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, 76ers point guard James Harden suffered a right foot tendon strain, which occurred in their 121-111 loss to the Wizards at home as they began a three-game homestand. Harden had to leave the game at one point in the second half and headed straight to the locker room with 76ers head trainer Kevin Johnson. The 10-time All-Star returned to the game to play the final 7:15 of the fourth quarter. The Sixers star played a total of 35 minutes — scoring 24 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds. He played through the pain as the Sixers were in a close contest with Washington.

All-NBA big man Joel Embiid has missed the last two games due to a non-COVID illness. Now with Harden reportedly out for a month, the franchise big man will look to carry a heavy workload once again when he returns to action. Something to keep an eye on going forward is the rise of third-year guard Tyrese Maxey. Maxey is second on the team in scoring at 24 points per game. Harden is third adding over 22 a night. Head coach Doc Rivers will now have to figure out how to adjust his offense with Embiid and Maxey as the two feature principles while running a successful offense. Harden’s impact is not just scoring the basketball — he averages a double-double leading the team with 10 assists per contest. With Maxey taking over, that has been a big part of the conversation in terms of his development running a team, setting up his teammates as a point guard while still developing that part of his game. Something to watch for going forward.

Rivers will now have to make a decision on who takes Harden’s spot in the starting lineup. Key offseason acquisition De’Anthony Melton should probably get the nod as he has performed very well through his first eight games in a Sixers uniform. Showing his two-way ability, averaging just over nine points per game while being a very disruptive defensive player on the other end. Melton missed Wednesday night’s game with lower back stiffness. While with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, Melton started 15 games for their playoff team.

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