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James Harden Says Current 76ers Team 'Is Definitely the Best Chance I've Had to Win'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 17: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles the ball during the game against the LA Clippers on January 17, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers have hit their stride, going 16-4 since a mediocre 12-12 start to the season.

They are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and star point guard James Harden is feeling optimistic that this current group of Sixers has real championship potential:

NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA

James Harden feels this Sixers team has the best title chances out of any team in his career 👀<br><br>(via NBA Today, <a href="https://twitter.com/ramonashelburne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ramonashelburne</a>) <a href="https://t.co/5fn8MjpRbK">pic.twitter.com/5fn8MjpRbK</a>

Tuesday's 120-110 win over the Los Angeles Clippers moved the Sixers to 28-16 on the season and up to third place in the Eastern Conference. They're 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics and a half-game behind the second-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.

Harden's play has certainly helped. The 33-year-old is having an excellent season, averaging 21.7 points, 11.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three.

While Harden isn't scoring like he did at his peak with the Houston Rockets, he has a number of talented scorers in Joel Embiid (33.6 PPG), Tyrese Maxey (20.9 PPG) and Tobias Harris (16.4 PPG) to help shoulder that load.

The result has been Harden spreading the love. He's serving as an elite facilitator and excellent secondary scorer behind Embiid, who had his sixth straight 30-point game against the Clippers and was quick to show his running mate some love.

"It wouldn't be happening without my teammates," he told reporters. "James is doing a good job of making it easy for me. Guys knocking down shots opens up a lot for me to go out and dominate."

The play of the team's two superstars, combined with the toughness and defense that offseason acquisitions P.J. Tucker and De'Anthony Melton have brought to the table, has the Sixers looking like legitimate contenders again after a disappointing first postseason with the Embiid-Harden duo last year and a slow start this season.

The Celtics look like the team to beat in the NBA at the moment. But the Sixers have the star power and the balance to give them a run for their money if they continue to play like they have since the start of December.