Breaking Down James Harden’s Future, Joel Embiid Cheesesteak Comparisons, and More

The Rockets acquired James Harden to pair with Chris Paul, but what will the team look like in 2-5 years? Who is better: Joel Embiid or Shaquille O’Neal? And more.

The “philly cheesesteaks” are a sandwich that is popular in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are made of sliced rib eye steak and melted cheese on a hoagie roll. The “Breaking Down James Harden’s Future, Joel Embiid Cheesesteak Comparisons, and More” is an article about the basketball players’ future after they left the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers supporters can’t be optimistic about the remainder of their second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat after a lackluster showing in Game 5. Even if the Sixers win on Thursday night to force a Game 7, they’ve showed no signs of being able to steal a game in Miami and save their season.

The fans can hear the beeping because Philadelphia’s season is now on life support. But don’t take it from me.

We asked 76ers fans on Twitter to send us their questions ahead of a do-or-die Game 6, and here’s what they had to say:

Joel Embiid and James Harden look on against the Heat.

Joel Embiid and James Harden look on against the Heat. The Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden and Joel Embiid react during Game 4 against the Miami Heat | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Question No. 1: “Hey doc, long time first time. Do you think it’s worth giving Furk or another bench guy some of Niang’s minutes? He’s been a black hole most of this series. Also, will Doc ever figure out a way to get Joel easy paint touches?? I’ll hang up and listen” — @indomitableJD

JD, you’ve posed some excellent questions. You’re correct about Georges Niang being a black hole this series, but it’s not like Furkan Korkmaz provides them a much better defensive alternative. The only thing Doc expects of these two is to make open threes, and everyone has already forgotten about Niang’s 12-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc against the Toronto Raptors in the first round. He wasn’t bad in Game 3 and Game 4 at home, so he should start Game 6 as the first shooter off the bench.

Shake Milton, on the other hand, is someone I’d want to see more of. Milton has nailed five of his 11 three-point tries in the playoffs, and he has a more refined offensive style than both Niang and Korkmaz, despite the small sample size. Shake some more!

In terms of Joel Embiid’s paint touches, I’m not sure any of the Sixers’ guards studied the exquisite art of entry passes in high school unless they were James Harden. Bam Adebayo in front of Embiid and the Heat’s recent shift to more zone has made it more difficult, but do off-ball screens no longer exist? Why can’t Doc put Embiid on the block and utilize Tobias Harris to take up Adebayo, freeing up the big man at the nail? I’d want to see at least some effort put in to get a smaller defender on Embiid to help these guys with entry passes.

Question No. 2: “Do you think the empty Miami stadium a tactic because they know the sixers prefer to win in front of a packed crowd?” — @JackPElliott

I realize this is primarily satirical, but you may be onto something? We all know how much Embiid enjoys it when supporters chant his praises or boo him while flipping him the double bird. On Tuesday night, both the Miami audience and Embiid’s performance were dead.

Let’s see how the Wells Fargo Center fills up for Game 6, and if this notion pans out.

Question No. 3: “If Joel Embiid and James Harden had to be compared to Philly cheesesteaks, which places’ sandwiches would represent them?” — @JoeKozlowski_

We’re chatting now. I’m sure Sixers supporters want this kind of hard-hitting commentary.

Let’s see. If we’re talking about Embiid, a juicy whiz wit on a seeded roll from Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philly is the way to go. Don’t let the name deceive you. This old-school steakhouse is a contender for the greatest steak in town. This sandwich is as flexible as they come, with no defects, from the freshly baked sesame seed bun to the generous mountain of juicy beef topped with wonderfully fried onions.

Let’s start with a cheesesteak from Oh Brother on Market Street with mushrooms and swiss cheese. You either adore mushrooms or despise them, which is ideal for a guy as divisive as Harden. Swiss cheese might sometimes indicate his weak defense and lack of effort. And I’m sure a few Philadelphians have cried “Oh brother!” at their television screens after a careless turnover or The Beard’s famous flop.

Question No. 4: “What impact do you think Al Horford would be having on this series?” — @all_that_jawn

Is it okay for him to wear a Boston Celtics jersey beneath his Sixers uniform? Because that’s the only way he could possibly play well with Embiid on the floor. In 2020, the matchup was a shambles, and I’m sure the 76ers were relieved to be free of that $109 million deal.

Horford, on the other hand, would be much superior to any of the Sixers’ existing backup center options if he were prepared to play 15 minutes off the bench.

Question No. 5: “Would a loss in this series against a Heat team getting limited minutes from Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson be enough for the Sixers to significantly retool their roster this summer? Or does running it back and paying Harden a ton still sound like a winning formula?” — @jacobwbourn

Is it too soon to label Harden’s performance “vintage”? Harden in the foreseeable future? How many more of them do you have? This will be included in the cost-benefit study for Philadelphia this summer… So you want to be an NBA GM?

— Matt Winer (@MattWinerTV) May 9, 2022

This is a tricky one. For one thing, I believe that having Lowry and Robinson on the floor has only harmed the Heat, given that one is playing on one leg and the other is incapable of defending a wall. However, the argument remains: the Harden deal was done with a specific aim in mind. It’s all or nothing. How could they feel secure forking out $270 million to a player who will only become slower as time goes on if this team suffers another second-round exit and Harden breaks apart in the championship game?

I understand that this would render the Ben Simmons trade a total disaster, but I believe the Sixers would be better served by letting Harden depart and instead pursuing a player like Bradley Beal. He’s younger, less expensive, and more motivated, making him an ideal complement to Embiid.

There’s no need to utterly demolish it, but I don’t believe Harden can be welcomed back if the Sixers don’t make the ECF this season.

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