Joel Embiid, Sixers single out PJ Tucker for difference made for Sixers
PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers went out and made their big move in free agency when they brought in PJ Tucker at the outset of free agency for moments like this one.
The Sixers were down by five with 2:04 left in regulation and they needed somebody to light a spark underneath them to not quit. They needed somebody to step and have them dig deep in order to pick up an important win.
That somebody was Tucker. His final stats will read six points and three rebounds, but he was instrumental in the 116-115 overtime win to tie the series up at 2-2.
“That’s why we brought him here,” said Joel Embiid. “That’s how he killed us last year, offensive rebounds, big play after big play offensively and defensively, that’s who he is. He’s always ready for it. I’m just glad he’s on our side.”
The Sixers were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the 2022 semifinals because they were tougher and they were making the little plays that the Sixers couldn’t.
So Philadelphia stole the guy who was making those plays for them.
“You know the biggest difference?” asked coach Doc Rivers. “There was a guy named PJ Tucker on Miami. There’s a guy named PJ Tucker on our team now and he got the offensive rebound and the 3-point play which was huge for us and helps everybody. So that’s part of it.”
James Harden knows Tucker the most. They both were teammates with the Houston Rockets and Harden had to face Tucker in the 2021 playoffs and the 2022 playoffs. Tucker’s Milwaukee Bucks eliminated Harden’s Brooklyn Nets in 2021 and Tucker’s Heat eliminated the Sixers in 2022.
“We were teammates so I know the work that he puts in,” Harden said of Tucker. “I know his will to win no matter what the stat sheet says and I know how valuable he is. Going against him the last two postseasons, he’s somebody that loves to win and plays winning basketball. You need like that on your team if you’re trying to compete for a championship so he’s valuable.”
Everybody needs a Tucker on their team. The guy who steps up and does what needs to be done in order to win basketball games and titles. There’s a reason why the Bucks won the title with him in 2021.
“He’s the guy everybody needs on their team that doesn’t need the ball, that doesn’t complain, and gonna do all the small dirty work that a lot of guys don’t wanna do,” Harden finished on Tucker. “Everybody wants to shoot and look pretty and dunk the ball, shoot the 3, get the ESPN highlights, but he’s a charge, diving on the floor, and picking up the best player. He does all that so he’s a great addition to our team and he’s very special.”
Now, the Sixers will need Tucker to make a huge difference on Tuesday on the road in a pivotal Game 5 back in Boston.
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