76ers news: Joel Embiid earns star endorsement, James Harden injury update

Joel Embiid bolstered his MVP campaign with another dominant performance Friday night. While the Philadelphia 76ers ultimately fell to Golden State on the road, it’s impossible to blame the 7-footer. He posted 46 points on 23 shots, with nine rebounds and eight assists for good measure.

Now the favorite to win MVP, Embiid will operate under increased levels of scrutiny the rest of the way. Philadelphia has nine regular season games remaining and currently occupies the No. 3 seed in the East, four games behind first-place Milwaukee and 1.5 games behind second-place Boston.

If Draymond Green’s opinion of Embiid carries any weight, however, the 29-year-old is clearly making the right impression on potential voters.

Green recently labeled Nikola Jokic as the hardest player to guard in the NBA, but he seems to have had a change of heart. Embiid is obviously joking, but by that same token, the Sixers’ star has always cared about his perception around the league — whether he wants to admit it or not. Two straight MVP losses has left him feeling disrespected, and understandably so. He’s on a mission to prove his singular talent while also guiding Philadelphia to the promised land.

Will James Harden play Saturday night vs. Suns?

Harden will likely be tagged as “questionable” leading up to Saturday night’s game in Phoenix. The star guard missed Friday’s loss to Golden State with Achilles soreness, not long after Doc Rivers cited the importance of entering the playoffs healthy. It’s clear the Sixers will (and should) take the cautious approach with Harden, who sits near the top of the league in minutes per game.

If Harden doesn’t play Saturday, expect his return sometime in the near future.

More 76ers news

  • Philly remains tethered to the top of NBA power rankings. ESPN currently pegs them at No. 2, behind only Milwaukee. Bleacher Report’s most recent rankings have the Sixers in the No. 1 spot. As we approach the playoffs, it’s hard not to feel confident about this group — with the unavoidable caveat of everlasting health concerns.
  • Temple University was rumored to have interest in Sixers assistant Sam Cassell to fill their head coaching vacancy. That said, the Sixers’ primary player development coach will not be leaving the team, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.