Joel Embiid didn’t sound very enamored with his teammates after they came up short in the second round against the Miami Heat.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ season officially ended on Thursday with a 99-90 loss to the Miami Heat. It was a frustrating loss for a team who couldn’t quite pull themselves out of the 0-2 hole they dug when Joel Embiid missed the first two games of the series.
Embiid is never one to mince words but he was particularly candid after the loss, talking in detail about James Harden and what he did, and didn’t give the 76ers in the postseason.
Joel Embiid on James Harden: “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. I thought, at times, as with all of us, could’ve been more aggressive.” pic.twitter.com/DGf7cXqfoH
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 13, 2022
Per ESPN, Embiid also elaborated to call out the 76ers’ defense as well:
“And I’m not just talking about offensively. I’m talking about, you know, as a whole offensively and defensively. I didn’t think we were good defensively as a team. They took advantage of a lot of stuff that we tried to do defensively. And then offensively just really everybody being on the same page, obviously, only having probably what, three or four months to all work together and try to figure it out. Maybe it wasn’t a lot of time. … I don’t think we played our best basketball.”
The 76ers were hammered without Embiid across the entire postseason and Harden wasn’t able to do much to stem the tide. Across 146 minutes with Harden on the floor without Embiid, the 76ers were outscored by an average of 4.7 points per 100 possessions. They were particularly woeful on the defensive end, surrendering an average of 118.2 points per 100 possessions.
Will Joel Embiid and the 76ers want James Harden back?
The 76ers gave up a ton to get Harden this season and spent a lot of time patiently waiting for the deal to unfold. He has a player option for next season and has already said he plans to exercise it and return to Philly. However, Embiid doesn’t sound particularly excited about the prospect and he clearly understands the Harden they got is not the Harden they were hoping to get. Philadelphia might kick the tires on trading Harden this summer but it’s hard to imagine them landing a deal that returns anything close to what they gave up to get him, leaving them in an even worse position.
For now, the 76ers’ wagon is hitched to Harden, for better or worse.