Sixers' James Harden expected to miss a month with foot injury

Sixers' James Harden expected to miss a month with foot injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Sixers have taken a major early-season injury hit.

James Harden suffered a right foot tendon strain and is expected to miss a month, a source confirmed Thursday afternoon to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.

There were two concerning plays involving Harden during the Sixers’ loss Wednesday night to the Wizards. He remained on the ground following a drive in the first quarter and flexed his left leg several times, leading to a Sixers timeout. In the third quarter, the 33-year-old rose with a limp after hitting the floor on a layup attempt. He went back to the Sixers' locker room with members of the team's training staff but returned with 7:15 left in the fourth and closed out the game.

Harden had a noticeable, significant limp in the locker room after the game and declined to speak to reporters.

The 4-5 Sixers have also been without Joel Embiid for the past two games because of a non-COVID illness. De’Anthony Melton was scratched late Wednesday with left lower back stiffness.

Replacing stars always requires a team effort, but Harden has been especially impactful through nine games in averaging 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Even when he’s not piled up big offensive numbers, the blitzes he’s drawn and passes he’s made to put teammates in advantageous spots have been valuable.

Tyrese Maxey will presumably take on more responsibility without Harden. He’s looked up for most challenges offensively thus far in his third season, scoring a career-high 44 points last week and shooting 46.8 percent from 3-point range on 6.9 attempts per game.

Melton has impressed on both ends of the court, but he’s often thrived next to lead ball handlers like Harden. His screening and passing had been positives alongside the 10-time All-Star, too.

The Sixers’ depth will also be further tested, with combo guard Shake Milton one player who might be asked to take on a larger role.