Harden still out, Embiid listed as questionable for Sixers' home opener

Harden still out, Embiid listed as questionable for Sixers' home opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

James Harden is not set to make his 2023-24 season debut in the Sixers’ home opener.

Harden was officially listed as out Sunday afternoon ahead of the team’s matchup against the Trail Blazers at Wells Fargo Center. He also missed the season’s first two games with a “return to competition reconditioning” designation.

The 34-year-old guard returned to the Sixers on Wednesday following a 10-day absence. He’d been away from the team because of a personal matter, according to a team official. Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said Harden was “in ramp-up phase again” and the team asked the 10-time All-Star to work out at their training complex in Camden, New Jersey, instead of joining its two-game road trip.

Nurse called it a “day-by-day” situation with Harden, who requested a trade this summer. He said the Sixers’ medical staff would determine when Harden was ready to play.

The Sixers also listed Joel Embiid (rest) as questionable on the second night of a back-to-back. Embiid played 36 minutes Thursday in the Sixers’ loss to the Bucks and 35 minutes Saturday in their win over the Raptors.

The superstar big man sat out the Sixers’ first three preseason games and hasn’t appeared at his best as far as conditioning. Embiid was still excellent in Toronto, recording 34 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocks.

If Embiid does not play, Paul Reed would be a clear candidate to start. Either rookie Filip Petrušev or Mo Bamba would likely slide into the rotation, too. Though Bamba is a talented shot blocker with five years of NBA experience, Petrušev was the better player during the preseason.

Sunday’s game is the first on a five-game homestand for the Sixers. They’ll look to move to 2-1 and drop a Portland team down Anfernee Simons (right thumb UCL tear) to 0-3.

The matchup will feature 22-year-old Tyrese Maxey against 19-year-old Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 overall pick in this summer's NBA draft. Maxey has been tremendous over the Sixers' first two games, scoring 65 total points and shooting 58.8 percent from three-point range. In 81 minutes of play, he has 15 assists and one turnover.