Philadelphia 76ers Struggling, Lose James Harden for a Month

Posted on: November 4, 2022, 10:24h. 

Last updated on: November 4, 2022, 11:31h.

The Philadelphia 76ers have a losing record through the first nine games of the season, and their disappointing start could get even worse after guard James Harden suffered a right foot injury that will keep him out of the starting lineup for at least a month.

James Harden Philadelphia 76ers Foot injury
Guard James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers makes a move against small forward Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Image: Getty)

Harden sprained a tendon in his right foot on Wednesday night in a loss against the Washington Wizards.

In addition to losing Harden, All-Star center and MVP candidate Joel Embiid missed three out of the last four games with a non-COVID illness.

The 76ers began the season with three straight losses. They were 1-4 a week ago before unleashing a three-game win streak and improving to 4-4. After losing to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, the 76ers slipped to 4-5 on the season, and currently hold down third place in the Atlantic Division.

Betting-wise, the 76ers have a 4-5 record against the spread.

The banged-up 76ers saw their NBA championship odds slip from +1500 in the preseason to +1900 right now at DraftKings. If the season were to end today, the 76ers would be headed to the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament as the eighth-place team.

The 76ers play seven of their next eight games at home at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Although the 76ers are only 1-3 at home this season, they held an impressive home-court advantage over the previous three seasons, winning 76% of their home games.

Without Harden, the 76ers will be tested at the end of November and the beginning of December, with six out of seven games on the road.

Buff Harden Goes Down

Harden was a lightning rod for criticism last year because he was overweight and out of shape. He cited numerous injuries, including a nagging torn hamstring that limited his ability to work out.

In the summer, Harden began his off-season workout regimen several weeks ahead of schedule. A svelte Harden entered training camp in his best physical shape since he won the MVP with the Houston Rockets in 2017-18.

Harden looked like his old self in the first two games of the season, averaging 33 points with back-to-back 30-plus point games.

In a 7-point win against the Wizards on Halloween, Harden unleashed his best all-around game of the season with 23 points, 17 assists, seven rebounds, and two steals.

In nine games with the 76ers, Harden averaged 22.0 points, 10.0 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game. He shot 44.1% from the floor for his best field-goal percentage in three seasons. Harden posted five double-doubles this season. He fell one rebound short of a triple-double twice this season.

Head coach Doc Rivers will rely on backup guards Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle to fill in for Harden.

Point guard Tyrese Maxey is averaging a career-best 24.2 points per game. The third-year player out of Kentucky is posting career highs in shooting percentage (51.6%) and 3-point percentage (46.8%). With Harden down for a month with a foot injury, the 76ers will lean on Maxey to provide more offense.

Curious Case of Embiid and the Secret Foot Injury

After the 76ers stumbled in the first week of the season with three disappointing losses, Rivers hinted that Embiid was rusty because he has plantar fasciitis in the off-season. Fantasy basketball owners were livid that the 76ers hid the injury during the preseason. Beat reporters dug a little deeper and discovered that Embiid made numerous comments alluding to the injury.

I spent the summer doing nothing and sitting on my couch,” said Embiid.

Embiid has an oblique sense of humor, so everyone dismissed the comment as just Embiid joking around. However, staying off your feet is what a doctor would recommend to expedite the healing process for a plantar fasciitis injury.

He’s currently listed as day-to-day on the injury report with a non-COVID illness. The flu bug has been going around, and the 76ers insisted he had the flu and wasn’t out because of a foot injury.

Even a rusty Embiid posted some good numbers at the onset of the season. He averaged 27.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He tallied three double-doubles in six of the games he played. In the first week of the season, Embiid had a monster game against the San Antonio Spurs with 40 points and 13 rebounds.

Embiid finished in second place in MVP voting last season. Center Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets narrowly edged him out to win back-to-back awards. Embiid entered the season among the top three betting favorites to win the MVP.