Joel Embiid counters James Harden — Sixers let him ‘do his thing’

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PHILADELPHIA – Speaking for the first time since James Harden The star was traded to the LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid He disagreed with Harden’s assessment that he was held back by the 76ers over the last few years.

“I don’t think so,” Embiid said after Thursday’s 114-99 win over the Toronto Raptors, where he finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in 35 minutes. “I think he’s done a lot of great things for us.

“But in my opinion, we gave him the ball every single possession, because he’s really good. He’s an amazing player. Obviously, being great as a passer, I think we gave him the ball…we’ll give him the ball. Every single possession just To go out and, you know, do his thing. And from there he had to make decisions as far as opening guys up or finding out for himself.

“But I thought he did a pretty good job of leading our offense and just passing the ball, getting guys open. That’s why he won the assist title last year.”

Harden, speaking at his introductory press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, said he was at “a thorn” with Philadelphia last season, adding, “I’m not a system player. I’m a system.”

But, as Embiid said, Harden led the league in assists for the 76ers last season, while Embiid led the way in scoring and earned his first MVP award. The season ended with a 76-game loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Phillies falling in the second round of the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

After Harden finally picked up his $35.6 million player option for the season in June, he requested a trade from Philadelphia to the Clippers — a request that was granted early Tuesday.

Embiid said he was happy Harden got what he wanted.

“I’m glad the situation was resolved, and I’m happy for him,” Embiid said. “I hope he’s able to succeed, make a lot of money, play good basketball and win. And I hope we both make it to the Finals, but he’s on the losing side and we’re on the winning side. It’s

“But I think when you look at the situation, where it probably came from, there was nothing we could do. It was out of our control. So in that situation, you just have to go with it.

“But I still believe we had a chance [to win together]. We were right there, especially with the team we have now. What he’s able to add and what he’s done, what we’ve allowed him to do, which is, we’ve given the ball away every single possession. …It’s unfortunate, but we just have to move on and we have a good guy who can grow up and get better.”

After a season-opening one-point loss to host Milwaukee, Embiid and the 76ers (3-1) picked up their third straight victory over the Raptors. In addition to Embiid’s dominance, Tobias Harris And Kelly Oubre Jr. 23 points each.

While Embiid said he doesn’t believe the Harden situation has ever served as a distraction for the 76ers, he added that it’s not up to him to discuss what potential moves could happen, or what’s back in the Philadelphia deal — a A combination of two draft picks, draft picks and a swap of forwards Nicholas Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris Sr. And KJ Martin.

Instead, he said it was for the front office to worry about.

“It’s not my job,” Embiid said. “My only job is to try to win. I just want to clean it up. I just want to be in the best position to win.

“I’m always going to believe in myself. It doesn’t matter who I play. I love the guys we have. We’re going to go out and fight every night like we’ve been doing, and we’re always going to have a chance to win. But as you see in the league, When guys win, it takes a lot and everybody has to contribute. And I believe in our guys.

“But the only thing I care about is winning. That’s my focus. I hope we’re all on the same page. Because that’s what I want. The moment we’re not on the same page, that’s a discussion for another day. “But these guys win. wants and we’re going to do our best.”

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