Sixers’ Doc Rivers singles out Tobias Harris for his defense vs. Celtics
BOSTON–The Philadelphia 76ers were able to stymie the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Tuesday in order to regain control in this semifinal series. They have pushed the Celtics to the brink and are one win away from the Eastern Conference finals.
While the heavy hitters are going to receive a lot of credit for Philadelphia’s success, Tobias Harris continues to do what is necessary to help the Sixers win games.
He had 16 points and 11 rebounds in support of big games from Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden. He also was terrific in defending Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
Per NBA.com’s tracking data, Tatum was held to just one point on 0-for-4 shooting when defended by Harris.
“He was great,” said coach Doc Rivers of Harris. “He’s gotta get away from that little reach that he does, but overall he was great. We try to keep him (Tatum) off his right hand as much as possible, he still gets there, but I thought he (Harris) just hung in there. He was tough.”
For Harris, he has always been known as an offensive player. He is a versatile guy who can get to his spots and rise up over smaller defenders by using his size and strength.
Now, he is using that size and strength to be a very good perimeter defender for the Sixers.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Rivers said of Harris’s defensive growth. “What’s even more impressive about it is he’s doing it with not being the featured offensive guy.”
Per NBA dot com’s tracking data, which is always a bit wonky, Tobias Harris held Jayson Tatum to just 1 point on 0/4 shooting #Sixers
— Ky Carlin (@Ky_Carlin) May 10, 2023
That can be tough for anybody in this league. Harris used to be the No. 2 guy on the offensive end and the go-to guy in the clutch from the perimeter for the Sixers. That isn’t the case anymore so now he focuses on the defensive end.
Still, that’s a tough transition for any player to give real effort on defense while not being featured much on offense.
“It’s tough for anybody,” Rivers added. “If you’ve been an offensive guy and now they’re telling you to be a defensive guy, it’s hard for anybody.”
Harris and the Sixers will look to close out the Celtics in Game 6 on Thursday at home.
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