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HomeSportSixers Get Slight Boost in NBA Power Rankings After James Harden Debut

Sixers Get Slight Boost in NBA Power Rankings After James Harden Debut

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Last Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers returned to the court following a much-needed All-Star break. With a refreshed team, the Sixers also got their newest addition in the mix as James Harden was set to make his debut after battling a hamstring injury.

Many expected the Sixers to look much better with Harden in the starting five, and his presence in his first outing with the Sixers didn’t disappoint. 

In his first game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Harden dropped 27 points off of 12 shots and nine free throws. In addition to his scoring, the star guard produced 12 assists and came down with eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

The Sixers took down the Wolves with a 31-point victory. Then, they returned to the court at Madison Square Garden two days later to face the New York Knicks. 

Once again, Harden showed up and showed out as he collected a triple-double with 29 points, 16 assists, and ten rebounds. Along with stellar performances by Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers took down the Knicks with a 16-point win.

Where Does ESPN Rank the New-Look Sixers?

With the Sixers back on the court with a new superstar in James Harden, they are off to a perfect 2-0 start. Although it was a short week due to the break, ESPN still released its weekly power rankings.

Considering the new-look Sixers only put on a small sample size, they got a slight boost in the rankings. But it was a boost, nonetheless. 

“It’s been a dream start for James Harden and Joel Embiid. Yes, the 76ers have had a couple of good opponents to start off with in Minnesota and New York. But that doesn’t diminish how smoothly the two superstars have fit — as Embiid expects, after saying so several times. One thing seems certain: With two of the league’s best foul-drawers on the same team, 76ers games are going to be long.” – Tim Bontemps

After going into the break ranked seventh, the Sixers found their way into the top five for this week. There are three Western Conference teams and one from the Eastern Conference.

The Miami Heat are the only conference rival ahead of the Sixers by a single spot. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since the Heat are at the top of the East with a 41-21 record, which placed them three games in front of Philadelphia. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_. 

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