The 76ers were able to keep their heads above water. For 14 games, James Harden was out with a right foot tendon sprain - both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey missed games in that stretch as well (Maxey remains out) - and Philadelphia went 8-6 with a +2.9 net rating and the best defense in the NBA over that stretch.
Monday night in Houston, Harden returns.
This wasn't a surprise, nor is the fact Doc Rivers confirmed Harden will be on a minutes restriction at first.
Harden averaged 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game before his injury, and while his 3-point shooting percentage was down (33.3%) he was still efficient and finding his footing as more of a facilitator than scorer.
The 76ers are 12-11 on the season and sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the East (with the Pacers and Raptors). If Harden can spark the Philadephia offense there is plenty of time for them to climb into the top four, host a first-round playoff game and position themselves for a deep playoff run. But it starts with getting their starting guards healthy again.
Harden is ready to take that on.
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James Harden returns to 76ers Monday night, is on minutes restriction originally appeared on NBCSports.com