The Philadelphia 76ers (41-25) picked up an ugly 116-114 overtime win from the Orlando Magic (18-51). The Sixers struggled on both ends and their star-studded duo of Embiid and Harden were extremely inefficient. Nonetheless, Philly swept Orlando in their season series. You can read more about this in Austin Krell’s post-game story. Philadelphia wouldn’t have been able to rally back from Orlando’s 17-point lead if it wasn’t for the efforts of Tobias Harris.
Harris’ Recent Struggles
Tobias Harris had more than his fair share of struggles since the all-star break. Harris is averaging 14.1 points per game (on 50.5 effective field goal percentage) over his last 8 games. With James Harden in the mix, many expected Harris to thrive under Harden’s on-ball gravity like Maxey, Embiid, and others have. But this hasn’t been the case for the most part.
Tobias was simply not capitalizing on Harden’s elite ability to create for others. Harris misfired on countless quality looks at the perimeter and Philly’s offense suffered from that. Tobias also dealt with major issues he’s had during his entire tenure with the Sixers. These issues include forcing contested jump shots and eternity-long decision making with the ball. Harris has been rather inconsistent because of those problems and that has been apparent recently. Tobias tends to overthink when he possesses the ball, which causes a turnover pass, a striped ball, or a bad shot attempt.
Confidence is Key
Tonight’s win against Orlando was an entirely different story for the Sixers power forward. Harris was extremely decisive with the ball in his hands, which is such a refreshing sight considering his recent slump. When Tobias plays with confidence and urgency he looks like an entirely different player. That version of Harris is a great complementary piece for the Sixers, despite his controversial contract. Harris is crucial to Philly when James Harden and Joel Embiid are off their game or getting double teamed/trapped. That was exactly the case in this overtime victory, but Tobias finally delivered in a big way. The Sixers will need Harris to play at that high-level when the playoffs roll around. Opposing defenses will apply an extreme amount of pressure on the duo and in turn Tobias needs to capitalize on the easy opportunities off their gravity.
Harris’ Impactful Offense
Harris displayed his versatility as a three-level scorer and as a passer in Philadelphia’s win. Tobias racked up 2 assists from hitting Joel Embiid with a pair of pocket passes into the low post. Embiid cashed in Harris’ dimes for some points in the painted area. Tobias got going very quickly in the opening frame as he drained a fadeaway jumper, splashed a transition three thanks to Maxey, and scored off of an Embiid handoff. These shots were a product of Tobias’ acquired confidence and decisiveness. Harris’ shot creation and dribble penetration headlined Philly’s second quarter. Harden was noticeably struggling offensively, and Harris’ scoring kept the Sixers within striking distance. Tobias’ capability to anchor the offense for a short period of time will be essential in the postseason.
Tobias’ off-ball activity was crucial in Philadelphia’s comeback in the second half. Harris once again benefitted from Maxey’s improved court vision and netted another three ball. Embiid found the Sixers forward splitting through the defense for an effortless layup. Harris unfortunately missed a fairly uncontested layup in the guts of the fourth quarter that could’ve prevented overtime. Tobias took that personally and hit the dagger three that ultimately sealed the deal. Orlando’s defense helped down low because of Harden’s scoring gravity coming off the pick and roll. The crafty guard took notice and hit Tobias at the corner and he cashed in on that open triple. It’s a great sign that Harden and Harris are slowly developing chemistry after a shaky start. Tobias Harris finished the game with 26 points (on 63.9 effective field goal percentage) and 9 rebounds in an offensive masterclass.