Six players show they can win ugly while Tobias Harris proves he can be counted on with big shots


Could it be the game’s most memorable bucket that never happened?


This isn’t a question that gets asked often, but it was during Monday Philadelphia Seventy Sixers game vs Toronto Raptors. When did the relevant non-cart occur? De Anthony Melton He picked up a loose ball and fired a cross to Tobias Harris on the weak side angle. Harris drilled a rhythmic jumper to catch and shoot and landed straight Scotty Barnes, who was rolling on the ground like a car that had just rolled out. There was a chance to play 4 points.

The Sixers was a Harris free throw away extending their lead to seven with 90 seconds remaining in overtime. Game over, for all practical purposes.

Except, it wasn’t. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse challenged the false call, and after review, the officials ruled it out PJ Tucker Illegal screen put on closing Barnes. Not only did the officials remove the error, but Harris’ points as well. And after the game, the Sixers were upset.

“You can’t go back two plays in a play,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “The foul was on PJ under the basket, right? The guy ran out and fouled Tobias. That should have nothing to do with the play. That’s the second action. They missed the first one, you can’t call it, that’s not what the call was. The call was in.” Action two. So unless you can string those together, you probably can, I just need you to explain that to me.”

Essentially, Rivers was at a loss as to why Tucker’s screen was revisionable at all. In his real-time explanation of the public address system, official Pat Fraher called it “an offensive foul that occurred near play immediately prior to the defensive foul.” Even if this high-leverage reversal is the correct explanation, the Sixers have already been visibly frustrated with the officiating for most of the game.

“This was probably the most ridiculous game I’ve ever been in,” the Sixers star said Joel Embiid He said. Asked to expand on what he found so absurd, Embiid said with a smile, “You can tell.”

While the basket technically did not happen, the sequence and score immediately after it showed why the Sixers were stuck in such a “ridiculous game”. Harris is picked up from the ground by Embiid and Tucker. Then Harris’s teammates patted his chest, celebrating not just the one dagger shot that got the Sixers an ugly but important victory.

However, it also felt like an acknowledgment of a player doing their best to adapt to a role that doesn’t come naturally to them.

“He was fantastic. He’s a star in his role,” Embiid said of Harris. “That’s what he’s been doing all season, hitting big shots, even ones that are given away for whatever reason. I mean, it was great.”

the The Sixers ended up defeating the Raptors 104-101 in overtime to improve to 17-12 on the season, despite falling into the usual rut Nurse’s team is always striving to lure them into. And this kind of ugly win doesn’t happen without Harris’ 21 points on 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from outside the arc.

How Harris earned those points sums up his new role. One of his seven field goals came in an isolated game in the middle of the field that he experienced in seasons past. This is old Tobias Harris. But on the other six baskets, he took a total of zero dribbles. Whether in transition or from beyond the arc, the former defense surveyor quickly pulled the trigger. This is the new Tobias Harris, who we’re starting to see more often.

“I know if you had kicked me out there a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do it and move on because that wasn’t the mentality for me, pick me up and shoot so fast,” said Harris. “At first it was hard, but now I’ve changed my mindset towards it and I just said, ‘Well, if that’s the case and the situation, how can you be the best at it?'” “”

There’s a lot of Sixers possession when Harris doesn’t have much say in whether he gets the ball. To be honest, most of them. Sixers often start possession with Harris positioned on the corner or wing watching a James HardenEmbedded Bake and Roll. Sometimes the ball finds it and sometimes it doesn’t.

No matter what the defense is doing, Harris must be ready to shoot. In the words of Rivers, “After four or five minutes without getting it, the ball swings around. Making it, that’s hard.”

Long season numbers are trending higher. Harris takes 5.7 depth attempts every 36 minutes and makes 42 percent of those shots. Those two numbers are high since he joined the Sixers midway through the 2018-2019 season. He’s got 4.7 triples per game, which is nearly double what he had during the 2020-21 season. And that’s even with Maxey, Embiid, and Harden all missing significant time.

Harden, whose decision was spotty at times in the second half and overtime against Toronto, got the perfect turnaround Fred VanVleet For the game winning basket. Then he found Harris in the corner, and just as he had done the whole game, Tucker was there to adjust the illuminated screen.

That basket counted, and while the Sixers struggled with making a run-up to a down, they survived Pascal I’m sorry (38 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) for the win. Whether it was the physical recalibration of his jumping station or the mental readiness to perform in the pick-and-shoot role, Harris’ success in transitioning into his new role played a major role.

“I’ve always played basketball throughout my career in the flow of the game and with a rhythm. It’s been all I’ve had since I was a kid,” Harris said. “But sometimes your rhythm can be off and whatnot, and you just have to figure out a way. And I’m glad I was able to adjust to that.”

(Top photo of Harris: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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