Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau blown away by Sixers’ Joel Embiid, James Harden

NEW YORK–The Philadelphia 76ers have an impressive star duo in the form of Joel Embiid and James Harden that terrorize opposing team’s defenses. The pick-and-roll game with the two of them is absolutely deadly between Harden’s playmaking and Embiid’s ruthless scoring.

Before the New York Knicks completed a 21-point rally to beat the Sixers on Sunday, coach Tom Thibodeau gushed over what the two stars can do on the offensive end of the floor. The two of them have been able to find synergy while out on the floor and it has been tough for teams to stop.

“Yeah, no, it’s pretty good,” Thibodeau laughed of the Harden-Embiid duo. “When you take two guys like that, and the way they’re playing right now is unbelievable, and I think any time you put two elite players in the pick-and-roll, that’s gonna command a lot of attention, and then that opens up the floor for other guys. I think their willingness to sacrifice and play off each other has made them—they’re playing great basketball on both sides of the ball right now.”

Embiid is one of those bigs who can score in the paint or he can knock down mid-range jumpers off those passes from Harden. That type of offensive ability can be so tough for teams to stop and then they make their teammates better due to the attention they receive.

“You look at Joel, he gives them a post presence,” Thibodeau continued. “He’s a big that can play away from the basket, he can put it on the floor, he’s terrific in the pick-and-roll, and James is terrific in the pick-and-roll, and then you look at guys like (Tyrese) Maxey and (Tobias) Harris and (De’Anthony) Melton, it’s a lot of weapons.”

One of the better aspects of the Harden-Embiid duo is the fact that it’s clear that they’re sacrificing for one another. Harden is no longer the ruthless scorer he was in his heyday, but he is now an elite playmaker and he makes everybody around him better while Embiid is rolling more now than he did in the past with other ball-handlers.

“I think their willingness to play off each other, their ability to break you down off the dribble, that creates easy offense, and then of course, they’re very efficient from the 3 so they’ve surrounded them with good shooting,” Thibodeau finished. “(Georges) Niang comes in, spreads you out, and plays off, they got guys who are playing off their stars really well.”


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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire