The Philadelphia 76ers are 1-2 on this current four-game road trip with one more to go on Monday when they take on the Denver Nuggets. They have had to play without their dynamic star point guard, James Harden, who is dealing with left Achilles soreness.
The Beard, who was missed in Saturday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, has missed all three games on this trip thus far and there is a good chance he misses another one on Monday against the Nuggets. It would make sense if he does when considering the fact that the playoffs are right around the corner and that’s when the Sixers need him the most.
“I’m hoping,” coach Doc Rivers told reporters on if Harden plays on Monday. “That’s why we bring guys on the road, but I really don’t know. I was pretty sure he wasn’t playing tonight (Saturday), but I was actually pretty sure everybody else would. D-House (Danuel House Jr.) didn’t play so I really do stay out of that more than you guys think I do.”
At this point, the Sixers should not care about getting the No. 2 seed in the East. They are currently sitting two games back of the Boston Celtics for that spot, but with eight games remaining, it seems like a far-fetched idea for them at this point. Although they do have one more matchup with the Cs on April 4 at home, Boston owns the tiebreaker so it’s almost like being three games back with eight to play.
Regardless of all of that, if Harden isn’t healthy in the playoffs, they have little to no chance. They need him and Joel Embiid to be at their very best in order to take on the Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs to get to the finals. Pushing Harden to play in the regular season doesn’t seem like a smart idea at this point.
“As a coach, you just want guys to be healthy,” Rivers finished. “You want them to get healthy and you don’t want to coach trying to push guys to play and put any pressure on guys. We got to be healthy when it counts and if that means James doesn’t play Monday, I have no qualms with that. We need him back, but we want him back for the long haul. We don’t want him in and out, especially at this point in the season.”
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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire