Tobias Harris isn’t the flashiest player on the Sixers. He’s unassuming, both on and off the court. He’ll have his moments on social media — especially when interacting with his best friend Boban Marjanovic — but for the most part, he puts his head down and does his job.
That’s why it was a little surprising for him to be so demonstrative after knocking down a floater with 50.6 seconds to give the Sixers a nine-point lead and essentially seal the game. After the shot went down, Harris waved his arms to the crowd, imploring them to get louder.
That shot accounted for two of Harris’ 11 fourth-quarter points as the Sixers’ $180-million man delivered down the stretch in a 117-106 win over the Nets (see story).
Coming off two brutal road losses, it was much needed.
“Yeah, it felt great,” Harris said. “I think all of us, we want to go out each and every night and we want to win every game we can. So when we do fall short of wins, it's disappointing for us. So just to get out there and get tonight's win and to feel good and to play good as a team, and just to feed off one another was big for us.”
The one thing Brett Brown has lauded all season is Harris’ ability to score in a variety of ways. He’s called the 27-year-old the most versatile scorer he’s had during his time with the Sixers.
On Wednesday, Harris had a little bit of everything working in scoring 34 points, his second-highest total this season. He made threes (4 of 6) — a point of emphasis with his head coach — he got downhill and drove to the basket and also showed off his skills in the midrange.
The midrange jumper is sort of a dying shot in the NBA with so much emphasis on threes. For Harris, it’s part of his game — something he’s done well with his entire NBA career.
While Harris has added the three to his repertoire over the last few seasons, he’s not about to abandon a strength.
“I usually just take what the defense gives me,” Harris said. “The couple of last games, there was a little bit of hesitation towards the midrange just by determining where the defense is at. But tonight, I really had a focus on if I got the space, just raise up and shoot it and you make it, you make it. You miss it, hopefully we can get the rebound and go from there. So just determining the space that's there and being aggressive with it.”
It was impressive that the Sixers came out firing against Brooklyn. It would’ve been understandable if they came out a little gun shy after going just 15 of 70 combined from three in Dallas and Indiana. Harris himself didn’t have his best outings, going 3 of 12 from three and 16 of 38 overall.
But it wasn’t just a matter of the shots going down. Brown noticed something different about Harris.
I think it's deeper than that. I think that there is a sincerity in him as a person and there is a genuine desire to win. And you can't dismiss that. ... There is a genuine desire to win and you can see it in his face and his actions in a locker room. It matters. He cares a lot. ... He was our bell ringer tonight. I was proud of him and it's deeper than he just made shots or whatever. To me, it is. It doesn't surprise me he came out the way he did.
They got the win, but it certainly wasn't easy. They trailed for a large chunk of the game before grinding out a victory.
The Sixers ought to be pretty used to close games by now. They were just coming off one against the Pacers where their offense went stagnant and was stifled down the stretch.
Brown put the ball in Harris’ hands Monday night. The drawn up play was to get Harris a look at a three with the Sixers trailing by two with 29.4 seconds left. Instead of putting the Sixers on top, Harris was blocked by T.J. Warren and they never really got another opportunity.
It was a different story on Wednesday. The Sixers rode Harris and he provided. His biggest shot of the night came on a hot potato from Ben Simmons. That off-balance three extended the lead from two to five with 2:20 left.
For a team that’s struggled to close out games, it was a welcomed sight.
I think as a team, we're finding out what's going to work for us late game,” Harris said. “And that's playoff basketball. A lot of those games are close and right down to the last five minutes and it's pretty much execution and who can get the best shot off and who can get the best look at a great shot.
That three probably wasn’t the best shot, but it went in.
Did he know it was going in when it left his hand?
“Oh, yeah, for sure. I think the ball is always going in when I shoot it. ... But then when I saw it go in I was hype.”
This side of Harris seems like one the Sixers could use more often.
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