PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid sat out after he clinched the scoring title and James Harden joined him on the bench, leaving Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 118-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
The Sixers finished with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will open against Toronto.
Milton scored 30 points, and Maxey and Paul Reed had 25. Luka Garza led the Pistons with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Embiid sat at the end of the bench and Harden pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and they both watched the Sixers rally from a blown 15-point lead to knock off the 59-loss Pistons.
Allen Iverson was in the house and the last Sixer to win a scoring title -- four, actually— got to share the arena with this season’s champ. Embiid finished at 30.6 points per game. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo also rested Sunday, finishing at 29.9 points. Embiid posted those numbers in just 33.8 minutes per game, the fewest minutes averaged in a season by the scoring champion in the shot-clock era. He also became the first international player to win a scoring title and first center since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-00.
Sixers fans erupted into “MVP! MVP! chants for Embiid when he was celebrated on the big screen for his scoring title.
Harden also earned a game off and averaged 21 points and 7.1 rebounds in 21 games with the Sixers. He has been plagued by hamstring issues since he played with Brooklyn — the Nets sent him to Philly for Ben Simmons in a trade-deadline deal — but coach Doc Rivers said Harden was fine.
“He’s in a good place, I can say that,” Rivers said. “Conditioning wise, he’s in a good place. We’ve got a week to get that a little bit better. The hamstring, from everything they tell me, is in a very good place. That’s the biggest concern, but I don’t have much. Going by our staff, they feel pretty good about him.”
76ers: Could be down a man against Toronto. Matisse Thybulle was listed as ‘ineligible to play’ on the official NBA injury report when the Sixers played in Toronto earlier this month. Thybulle, a defensive specialist, has not said publicly whether he is vaccinated against COVID-19. Unvaccinated foreign nationals are currently prohibited from entering Canada. Limited exemptions to the rule no longer apply to professional athletes.
Pistons: Former Villanova star Saddiq Bey started all 82 games. ... Cade Cunningham sat out.