James Harden says he doesn’t feel the pressure ahead of the start of his first postseason for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Their campaign begins on Saturday against the Toronto Raptors, who have given Harden some trouble in a Philadelphia uniform.
In his two games against them for the 76ers, James Harden shot a combined 8-for-24 from the field and 1-for-8 from 3-point range. As well as that, he committed nine turnovers.
At the very least, James Harden understands the challenge Toronto will provide.
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“They just fly around,” Harden said.
“They play extremely hard, they kind of junk up the game, they have a lot of guys that are tall, athletic, long and solid defenders, they use their length very well, and they just have each other’s back, they run around, they scramble, and they fly around defensively, so for us we have to execute, making sure we’re crisp in our passes and if the shot’s available, take it.”
Harden carries the scars of some brutal playoff defeats in his career. He crashed out of the postseason two years in a row; in Game 6 against the Spurs in 2017 and in Game 7 against Golden State in 2018.
“Pressure, no. I feel good,” Harden said. “I’m ready to hoop. There’s nothing to it.”
Joel Embiid is counting on Harden’s readiness to hoop, because he knows he’s going to be targeted by Toronto.
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“I’m not going into this series looking to average 40,” Embiid said. “They’re going to get the ball out of my hands. So it’s all about me really not getting frustrated and trusting my teammates over and over and just making the right plays. Doesn’t matter if it’s 10, 20 points or whatever, so long as we’re scoring, that’s my mentality, and it starts with me. All the attention they’re going to throw at me, I just have to make my teammates better.”