PHILADELPHIA – After looking very out of sorts to start the 2022-23 season, the Philadelphia 76ers finally collected themselves and won a game. In a 120-106 win over the Indiana Pacers, the Sixers won decisively. James Harden led the way once again with a great performance.

Harden was once again the star of the game. He tallied 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, two steals and committed no turnovers. The Beard was happy to finally record a win this season and explained after the game that playing more up-tempo was a crucial reason why.

“It just gives us more time to create a better shot. When you’re walking the ball up, you’re limited,” Harden said. “So, we want our pace to pick up a little bit more…Our ball handlers gotta do a good job of that and that’s just gonna give us more opportunities on the backend when the shot clock is going down. So, tonight was a good start and we just gotta keep that up.”

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has stressed the need to play with more pace as the team racked up losses. Against the Pacers, they got out in transition for some crucial buckets (although they did allow Indiana to do the same) but the pace increase went beyond that. On offense, they got into their sets quickly and attacked early in the shot clock. It usually yielded an open 3-pointer but even when it didn’t, they took advantage of the defensive shifts by keeping the ball moving and finding the open man.

One of the Sixer’s most reliable transition plays is a James Harden outlet pass to Tyrese Maxey. Although he only had eight points in the win, the young guard’s speed always makes him dangerous.

“If he’s even with him, 9 times out of 10 he’s gonna beat him It’s just a trust factor that we’re building as a team,” Harden said of Maxey. “We continue to build that game by game. You’ll see some really good things for us when the time is right.” He also noted that Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrel have their moments as downcourt targets in transition. 

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Whether the Sixers can show this level of pace against truly good teams will be put to the test on Wednesday and Friday. They will travel north to face the Toronto Raptors for a pair of games. Harden and Philly will need to hone in on what clicked against the Pacers in order to keep winning.