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James Harden shines in debut as 76ers smash Timberwolves 133-102

Harden dazzled in Sixers debut as the biggest move of the trade deadline finally took shape on the court.

Philadelphia 76ers v Minnesota Timberwolves
James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up before the start of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on February 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

New Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard James Harden will make his team debut Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves as he hopes to finally find his perfect fit on the basketball court. Harden said he wanted to go to Philadelphia last year prior to ending up in Brooklyn, but he was able to get to his desired destination after all. Harden is now reunited with Daryl Morey on a championship-caliber team with a big man in Joel Embiid who is playing the best basketball of his career. How Harden and Embiid work together will ultimately shape the outcome of the 2021-22 season, starting with Friday’s game against Minnesota.

James Harden debut vs. Timberwolves live updates

James Harden finished with 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in 35 minutes of action to help the 76ers defeat the Timberwolves 133-102 in what will go down as a successful debut for the shooting guard. Harden was easily finding open players, splitting double teams and working well with Joel Embiid, who put up 34 points and 10 rebounds himself.

The guard was being doubled early and often on screen actions, which forced him to make passes to the far side open man. Harden was able to do that with ease and the Timberwolves quickly abandoned that approached. The Beard made them pay with triples and great drives, including some four-point plays on his signature stepback shot. The 76ers were also playing faster in transition and making quick decisions, something the team struggled to do prior to Harden’s arrival.

While Ben Simmons continues to ramp up his conditioning efforts with the Nets, Harden’s first game as a 76er couldn’t have gone better. There are still issues to work out defensively and Minnesota is hardly the litmus test of the Harden-Embiid pairing working the but the early returns are phenomenal.


It’s a game of overs for Harden. He’s hit the over on all his player props, and the double-double has also hit. If you took the over on all those numbers, you’re feeling awesome right now.


The over on rebounds has also cashed for Harden, who is approaching triple-double territory. The only thing preventing him from getting there will be Doc Rivers, who is likely to rest Philadelphia’s top players with a huge advantage.


We’ve reached the end of the third quarter and Harden has 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He’s also hit three 3-pointers in this game and Philadelphia has a 92-74 lead on Minnesota. It’s been a great debut for everyone involved.


If you took the over on threes for Harden, your bet is officially a winner! It was a signature stepback from Harden as well, which is the second time he’s done that on a triple in this game. Sixers are up big on Minnesota in what is turning out to be an awesome debut for Harden.


In terms of Harden’s player props, it’s looking good for the over on points and assists as the guard is up to 17 and seven in the third quarter. Rebounds could go either way as he’s at three, and three-pointers at 2.5 is trending to the over as Harden only needs one more. The double-double at -150 is also in play.


It’s been one half for Harden as a 76er and the early returns on offense are fantastic. The Beard has 17 points, five assists and three rebounds while making the team play faster. He’s not taken away from Embiid much, who has 14 points and seven rebounds. The 76ers lead the Timberwolves 65-49.


Harden has hit a triple in this game and is now up to nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the second quarter.


The 76ers did bring Harden back in the game when Embiid took a seat at the end of the first quarter. The guard got to the stripe again and sank some free throws to push his point total to five. He’s got one assist and one rebound in addition to that as the 76ers lead the Timberwolves 34-25 after one. The T-Wolves are doubling Harden on every screen action, so it’s been hard for him to get one-on-one looks so far. We’ll see if that changes going forward.


Harden takes a seat with a little over four minutes left in the first quarter, and it’s evident the Sixers will try to stagger him and Embiid as much as possible. He checks out with three points and one assist so far in the game.


Harden is on the board as a Sixer. He was able to drive to the hoop for the and-one layup. Philadelphia leads 10-6 early in the first quarter.


The first field goal goes to D’Angelo Russell, so if you had Harden +700 on that prop you’re out of luck. The 76ers shooting guard has gotten the ball a few times on offense and had to whip it out of the pick-and-roll to the far side shooter, so he hasn’t had a chance to really get in space and take a shot.


Harden is starting for the 76ers tonight, along with Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid. That’s quite a formidable lineup and will be a lot to deal with in the postseason. For what it’s worth, the 76ers are currently +700 to win the title per DraftKings Sportsbook.


Here’s a look at Harden’s player props for tonight, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. The over on 3-pointers (2.5, +140) and under on rebounds (6.5, +105) might be enticing as plus-money plays. The oddsmakers are expecting no limitations for Harden with his points-assists-rebounds lines set at 21.5-9.5-6.5, which is about what his season averages are in a starting role.


The Beard is officially in the building and ready for action.


The 76ers have thrown together a nice hype video ahead of Harden’s debut.


The NBA has already hyped this Embiid-Harden pairing with this post earlier in the day.