James Harden on the Joel Embiid Effect: ‘His Presence Alone Gives Us Energy’

James Harden on the Joel Embiid Effect: 'His Presence Alone Gives Us Energy'

The Philadelphia 76ers certainly brought the fight to a Miami Heat team that was seemingly poised to send Philly to an early vacation to Cancun.

It was either sink or swim for a Philly team down 0-2 to the No. 1 seeded Heat. To this point, Miami has been able to do everything they wanted, finding ways to dismantle the 76ers whenever they flipped that switch to do so. However, a 99-79 defensive masterpiece from the 76ers has now left Miami stunned and searching for answers after Philly answered the bell and seemed to be energized by the return of MVP candidate Joel Embiid.

Embiid missed the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinal series after suffering a concussion and broken face during Game 6 of the 76ers-Raptors first-round series. This Friday afternoon, the Process was finally cleared for action but was reportedly still not set to go until he was given the green light about two hours before gametime.

Donning his Phantom of the Process black mask, Embiid wasn’t the two-way bully he typically is, but in 36 minutes of action, the former Kansas Jayhawks finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. According to James Harden, Embiid didn’t need to be superman to help the 76ers close their series deficit to 2-1; his physical presence and leadership were the missing ingredient for Philly.

“It’s not about him scoring 30 or 40 points—His presence alone gives us energy—His communication, his dominance is very important to this team,” Harden said.

Although Embiid admittedly wasn’t happy with his conditioning but could walk away happy with how much his presence dissuaded the Heat from attacking the rim like they did in Games 1 and 2 while simultaneously galvanizing his teammates into forcing Miami into scoring 79 points on 35.1 percent shooting from the field and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“But it was game time. It was winning time. It’s the playoffs.” Harden elaborated, per ESPN. “Joel knew how much we needed him, and he delivered. His dominance on both ends of the ball is very important to this team; it’s very valuable to this team. That’s why he’s the MVP, and we fed off that, and we got to just continue to keep pushing.”

Now down 2-1, the 76ers will look to tie their second-round series with Miami on Sunday.

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