James Harden and Jalen McDaniels sidelined for Sixers vs. Bulls

Harden and McDaniels sidelined for first game of road trip originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers had a shorthanded start to their four-game road trip.

Approximately 90 minutes before tipping off against the Bulls at United Center, the team ruled James Harden out with left Achilles soreness and Jalen McDaniels out with right hip soreness.

Harden lay on the floor in apparent discomfort following a second-quarter drive Monday night against Chicago. Though Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said after the game that Harden was “hurting a little bit” during the team’s double-overtime loss, he played almost 47 minutes.

Harden came back well from the one major injury he suffered earlier this season. After missing 14 contests because of a right foot tendon strain, he hasn’t sat out consecutive games once. If Harden hits the minimum number of games played — he would need to appear in at least five of the Sixers’ final 11 — the 33-year-old is on track to lead the NBA in assists per game for the second time in his career. Harden has averaged 10.8 assists, while the Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton was at 10.4 heading into Wednesday night.

Though the Sixers have performed admirably when undermanned, they know the health of Harden and Joel Embiid is central to their playoff hopes. Embiid suffered multiple injuries last postseason, including a torn thumb ligament and facial contusion. Harden also wasn’t his best physically because of a long-term left hamstring issue. He’s generally felt in a better place this year.

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When asked on Jan. 10 whether he was the healthiest he’d been since joining the Sixers, Harden simply said, “Yep.”

McDaniels missed the Sixers’ wins over the Cavs and Hornets with a right hip contusion. Though he played in the team’s next two games, he didn’t move as comfortably as usual. McDaniels told Sixers Wire’s Ky Carlin Monday that the injury was “still holding me back a little bit.”

P.J. Tucker returned Wednesday following a two-game absence because of left ankle soreness. He was in the Sixers’ starting lineup alongside Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris and Embiid.

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