PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers had a matchup on Tuesday that was hyped up to the max. They played host to old teammate Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets. Simmons, obviously, has a lot of history with the Sixers, and given the way the relationship ended, some fire was expected in this one.
Some of that fire was extinguished by the injuries to Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, but there were still some old Simmons teammates, such as Tobias Harris, to rekindle the sparks.
However, Harris wasn’t focused on Simmons. The Sixers were short-handed, and he needed to step up and lead Philadelphia to a much-needed win.
“0% there,” Harris said of motivation from Simmons. “It was more so about our group. Being short-handed and truth be told, the guys that we have out there on a court are amazing players, who everyone has a story and a journey of how they fought for this position of where they’re at.”
Harris has been this team’s leader while out on the floor as he has been the one to really set the tone at times and be that vocal guy. In this case on Tuesday, he wanted to make sure the Sixers fought through the Simmons drama to come out on top.
“I’m always kind of like, a barometer of the team of basically keeping our energy and our spirit right through the ups and downs of the season,” Harris acknowledged. “When you get presented this type of opportunity where new guys are playing minutes, it’s easy to say they’re down four starters, but you get four new guys in there who aren’t playing eight to 10 minutes, now we’re playing 32 minutes. So it’s an amazing opportunity.”
The Sixers had no business winning this game. Philadelphia was down so many players, and the Nets had Simmons, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving healthy and active. The firepower Brooklyn possesses is impressive.
The fact the Sixers overcame all of that is a testament to what Harris brings as a leader.
“For me, just being a part of that and building up guys’ confidence out there on the floor and leading and just bringing it,” Harris added. “Everybody was (Tuesday). That makes you want to win games more than anything. That’s where my mindset was.”
As the team continues it effort to get on the same page, players will lean on Harris during this tough stretch.
“Even from two days ago, when we heard the news about Tyrese and Joel,” he finished. “How can we gather everybody? How can we build up everybody’s confidence to allow them to know, ‘Hey, you’re starting now and you’re an NBA starter.’ So the guy in front of you, we got to go at him and win our match up and get this win.”