Undermanned and on the road, Tobias Harris and the Philadelphia 76ers showcased a ton of fight in what can only be described as a good loss to the LA Clippers.
Tobias Harris has received a ton of criticism in 2019-20, and for the most part, a lot of it has been justified.
From going 0-23 from beyond the arc over a six-game stretch in November, to his dreadful performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in what will down as the season’s (god willing) low watermark, Harris has struggled to live up to his status at the highest-paid player in franchise history.
Granted, a lot of that has to do with the salary cap structure, but $180 million over five years ain’t no joke.
More from Philadelphia 76ers
- Philadelphia 76ers: Tobias Harris deserves a bit more credit
- Remember when the Philadelphia 76ers were actually fun?
- Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid and Co. could use some Orlando Magic
- Philadelphia 76ers: Deshaun Watson is a fan of Allen Iverson
- Philadelphia 76ers: Trading for Blake Griffin is the worst idea ever
So when the Sixers took the court against the LA Clippers, there wasn’t a ton of optimism that the Harris-led squad could stroll into the Staples Center and secure a win.
*spoiler alert* they didn’t, but not for a lack of trying.
Facing off against his former team, Doc Rivers, and five former teammates, Harris dropped a cool 25 while holding it down as the Sixers’ number one scoring option.
Okay, technically Shake Milton was the team’s first offensive option, as the 6-foot-5 SMU product put up a lifetime-high 39 points in 39 minutes while setting the NBA record for consecutive made 3 pointers at 14, but that’s another story for another article (keep an eye out).
No, with the pressure on to keep the Sixers relevant without a pair of All-stars, Harris gave it his all, even if his new team couldn’t overcome a full-strength Clippers squad featuring two All-Stars, a Sixth Man of the Year, and Philly native Marcus Morris.
Ironically enough, once Al Horford fouled out of the game, it was effectively over.
In a game that also saw Josh Richardson exit prematurely with a potential concussion, Harris scored 25 points in 41 minutes of action while recording four assists, four rebounds, and 3-7 shots from 3 point range.
That’s right, Harris played all but seven minutes of the game against his former club, a decision that probably isn’t ideal when you consider the team’s top two players are out with injuries, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Who could have predicted Horford would get tossed from a game?
Like I said, desperate times.
Now despite what some fans will eagerly tell you – to your face, in your DMs, and when you’re minding your own business walking down the street in a Sixers jacket – Harris is a great 3-and-D wing. He currently ranks fifth among small forwards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus behind the likes of LeBron James, the player he replaced in Jimmy Butler, and the player that ultimately replaced him in Kawhi Leonard. Harris has also elevated his 3 point shooting percentage back to his career average of 36.4, a task that has proven to be no small feat based on volume.
Oddly enough, Harris is the only Sixer to have started every game so far this season and is responsible for roughly 19.2 points and 6.7 rebounds a game – the second-highest marks of any player on the team.
And against the Clippers, a team he admittedly knows inside and out, Harris took another step towards proving he’s capable of creating his own shot, and more like Denver Nuggets-era Carmelo Anthony than 2018 Houston Rockets Carmelo Anthony.
On the afternoon, Harris attempted 21 shots from the field, seven from 3, seven from 5-25 feet away from the basket, and seven within dunking distance of the hoop. While some of these shots were better looking than others, including a nice first quarter dish from Milton, it’s clear Harris isn’t just a catch-and-shoot clone of Robert Covington.
If only Harris could hit a crucial free thrown down the stretch… *sigh* I digress.
With Joel Embiid out for at least the next two games, and Ben Simmons out for an indefinite period, the pressure is on for Tobias Harris – and his odd-couple opposite, Shake Milton – to keep the energy up, the moral intact, and the Philadelphia 76ers competitive on a vital West Coast roadie. Even in defeat, it’s safe to say Harris proved a lot against his former team and could give the LeBron-less Lakers a run for their money in their second showdown at Staples in three days.