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ORLANDO, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 27: Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the first half of a game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on November 27, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

The Sixers have been on a nice little stretch lately. Even without James Harden or Tyrese Maxey, and Joel Embiid only just returning from injury last night. And Rich Hoffman from The Athletic joined “the best Show Ever?” to discuss this streak. How have they been winning without their best players? What did we see from Joel Embiid in his return? Rich Hoffman discussed that and more. Here is some of what he had to say.

On Joel Embiid Being Under-Appreciated…

“I think it’s probably because when he struggles it is very apparent. He has made the point that when he struggles people always point to he is out of shape. Sometimes he says that is not the case. He’s a big guy and it’s probably a little bit easier to see when he messes up and not playing at a high level… I thought he was excellent in last night’s game.

And the thing that is pretty underrated about Joel is he saw how well the Sixers’ backups were playing. He approached most of that game as I am not going to score 59 points tonight. I don’t need to do that. I want to get Shake Milton, Deanthony Melton, and Tobias Harris involved. And even when the Sixers struggled shooting, he stuck to that script. And at the very end, he won that game for them. I just think his intellect, his basketball IQ, is a very underrated thing. And you saw that on display last night.”

On What Will Happen When Maxey and Harden get Back…

“They gelled. The level of chemistry they showed over the past couple of weeks was excellent. That is my biggest question moving forward. When you have James Harden back when you have Tyrese Maxey back, can you play this same style of basketball? At the beginning of the season, they weren’t playing very well. Those top 3 players need to be allowed to cook. But these other guys are more capable than it was shown at the start of the year… I don’t know exactly how it is going to work. James Harden is a very specific idiosyncratic player.

But the good news is the super duper star of the team Joel Embiid, seemed very attuned to that idea. He was looking to pass the ball. Think he finished with 7 assists. He would have had more if they shot the ball well. But that is the biggest issue with this team.”

On the Impact of DeAnthony Melton

“He has exceeded my expectations. I had pretty high expectations for him. I watched him a decent amount in Memphis. Playing next to Ja Morant, and thriving in that situation. I thought he was really good. He has even exceeded what he was going to give to the Sixers. His name in Memphis was Mr. Do Sometghing. Just because whether it is a steal, a rebound, a block, or a dunk. He is able to give the Sixers an element they didn’t have. That athleticism, and spontaneous playmaking. Watching him play defense has been a lot of fun… I think as far as toughness, defense, 3pt shooting. There are going to be nights where he is not shooting it that well. Nights where his touch on layups isn’t there. But Sixers have to be really happy with the early returns on that trade.”

And you can listen to the full segment with Rich Hoffman below…