Player grades: James Harden leads Embiid-less Sixers past Pacers

PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers entered Wednesday’s contest with the Indiana Pacers a little short-handed. They were missing Joel Embiid due to left foot soreness and they had to find a way to overcome that loss against a hot Pacers team that entered the night on a four-game winning streak.

Employing a 3-guard lineup with James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and De’Anthony Melton, the Sixers were able to come away with a 129-126 win in overtime for their third straight victory. Harden had 26 points, eight assists, and five rebounds to lead the way for Philadelphia.

Melton added 19 points and six rebounds, Tobias Harris had 19 and 10 rebounds, and Maxey had 17 and six assists. Montrezl Harrell gave a huge lift off the bench and had 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting with four blocks while providing some size against the Pacers. Shake Milton had 13 points and Georges Niang added 11.

Here are the player grades following the win:

James Harden: A-

The Beard started his night off aggressively by going to the basket. The Pacers don’t have a suitable defender they can throw at Harden and he made sure he took advantage of his opportunities. He was phenomenal in being able to stop any scoring runs the Pacers had and he was terrific in being able to provide some offense in the wake of the loss to Embiid. He continued to get to the rim and bother Indiana all night long. While he struggles offensively in overtime, he made a huge defensive play on Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin to seal the win for Philadelphia.

Tyrese Maxey: A-

For Maxey, this initial stretch is all about getting his legs back and being able to be active again on the offensive end. He looked like he had his timing back a bit in this one as he was getting to the basket with ease and he was getting his teammates involved. In the second half, he was getting to the basket a bit more and he was able to get some shots to fall which led to an overall successful night. He had a huge play at the end of regulation with a steal and a slam to keep Philadelphia in it.

De'Anthony Melton: A

There is so much that Melton can do on the floor when it comes to being a 3-point shooter, a ball-handler, a defender, and just being a glue guy on the floor. He made some huge shots in the second half both in regulation and in the overtime session. There is a lot that he does for this basketball team and the Sixers wouldn’t be where they are without him.

Tobias Harris: B+

Without Embiid on the floor, the Sixers needed somebody to step and score the ball, and Harris provided some early, but there could’ve been more. Quite a few times, he would go to the rim and he would get stripped and the Pacers would go the other way. When he was aggressive and going up strong, there was not much Indiana can do. He then went up a bit soft in the second half which almost led to Philadelphia taking a loss, but he tied the game to force overtime on a hustle put-back play. It’s always a mindset with Harris when it comes to his offense. He has to be able to play with a strong attitude every time he gets the ball.

PJ Tucker: C+

Starting at center in place of the injured Embiid, Tucker left the floor limping in the first quarter with what looked like a foot injury. He ended up returning in the second quarter, but he still struggled on the offensive end. He had some easy looks, but he wasn’t able to convert them. What he did do was bother the Pacers on the defensive end and he made some hustle plays.

Montrezl Harrell: A+

The veteran gave the Sixers a huge boost early in this one. He had six points and two blocks in the opening quarter and he gave Philadelphia some size down low when dealing with Myles Turner. That is where Philadelphia missed Embiid the most in this one when it comes to the Pacers big man. His strong play continued in the second half and the Sixers needed all of it in this one.

Shake Milton: A

This was a much better Milton game. When he is aggressive like this and is able to get to the basket for easy points, it allows him to get into a rhythm and be able to help Philadelphia on the offensive end. For the sake of the Sixers, they have to hope that this is a sign of things to come for him off the bench. He was terrific all night long for Philadelphia.

Georges Niang: A

The initial run for Niang was good as he was able to get his 3s to fall. His mere presence on the floor allows the offense to be spaced out as the Pacers had to pay attention to him. That allowed the guards to be able to get into the paint and make some plays for others. He knocked down more in the second half to allow some separation for the Sixers.

Matisse Thybulle: A-

When Buddy Hield began to get hot for the Pacers, Thybulle entered the game and cooled him off a bit. He harassed Hield whenever he got the ball and forced him into some tough looks. On the offensive end, he was able to get a triple to fall and he made a nice cut to the basket for a dunk. He made an impact on both ends of the floor in this one.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire