‘Not who he is anymore’: Embiid’s brutal Harden assessment in wild Simmons repeat

Embiid: 'Not who he [Harden] is anymore' | 00:38
Staff Writers from Fox Sports

On a night of somewhat ironic repeats, Joel Embiid couldn’t help but deliver an answer on James Harden — like he did last post-season with Ben Simmons — that will dominate every sports talk show on Friday morning in America.

Philadelphia crashed out of the post-season after a 99-90 defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat, with the star duo of Embiid and Harden failing to fire when it mattered most.

Harden mustered just 11 points in Game 6, and didn’t score in the second half, while Embiid was 7-of-24 from the field for his 20 points.

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76ers eliminated from playoffs by Heat | 01:09

“Obviously, I’m sure, since we got him everybody expected the ‘Houston’ James Harden, but that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a playmaker,” Embiid said when asked about his star running mate.

Harden was acquired in a mid-season trade for Ben Simmons, after the Australian chose to sit out rather than play with Embiid, who criticised him in the aftermath of Philadelphia’s 2021 series defeat to the Atlanta Hawks.

A three-time NBA scoring champion, Harden finished the series with an average of 18.5 points per game.

“We ran our offence, you know, the ball just didn’t get back to me,” Harden said in an attempt to explain away his no-show.

Harden, now 32, once averaged 36.1 points a game over a season in Houston. But since arriving in Philadelphia from Brooklyn, hasn’t looked himself.

“There are times, he could have been, as all of us, could have been more aggressive,” Embiid added, before making sure to include others. “All of us, whether it’s Tyrese [Maxey], Tobias [Harris], or guys coming off the bench.”

Smith tears into 'egregious' Harden | 01:09

Embiid discussed Harden’s aggressiveness earlier in the post-season, and his decision to go back to that talking point after Philadelphia’s post-season exit is an interesting one.

“I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we…I don’t know how to say it…is when we had an open shot and we made one free throw,” Embiid said, referring to Simmons passing up a dunk, after the Sixers crashed out of the post-season last year.

Since then, he’s argued that his criticism was for the whole team, and that he didn’t throw just Simmons under the bus.

Just like with Simmons though, whatever Embiid’s intentions were really doesn’t matter, with his Harden answer running rampant throughout NBA Twitter.

Seemingly learning his lesson from last season, Sixers coach Doc Rivers chose against stirring the pot, despite being pushed on Harden’s performances.

“We win and lose as a team,” Rivers said.