Doc Rivers was surprised by Harris and his performance
The Sixers were understaffed for the past two weeks because of injuries and health and safety protocols that prompted their head coach Doc Rivers to dig deep into his bench. Apart from Joel Embiid, who is now out for a few weeks because of an injury, the team really missed Tobias Harris, who caught Covid-19 but was able to return last night and showcased why he is a crucial player for the Sixers and their playoff dreams down the line.
Harris finished the game with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, and it seemed like he didn't miss a beat despite being out of action for ten days. Despite the loss, Doc Rivers shared how important it was to have Harris back in the lineup, and even he surprised Rivers with his performance and the way he looked on the court.
"He looked great, you know… I thought early on he really struggled just handling the ball. That's one thing when guys miss games the first thing that goes is ballhandling. Like, he had a couple of them where he just fumbled the ball and lost it. But that's honestly typical. He was… I don't know how he was in such great shape, you know, I'm not shocked – of all the people you would pick to be in shape after Covid [it] would probably be Tobias, so we tried to give him short spurts, but he looked good."
Dealing with Covid-19
Tobias shared after the game how we found out he had Covid-19 and how him being positive might jeopardize the entire team. Even though he overcame that relatively easily, he admits he felt body aches and fewer for a few days but afterward was healthy and looking forward to coming back and helping his team.
"Yeah, it was tough, I mean you know from the day that I got Covid it was like I came in here and I told KJ [Head Athletic Trainer Kevin Johnson], I said that I am not feeling too hot but I'll get tested after the game and he was like: "If you get tested after the game, and you have Covid the whole team is going be in isolation." So, I was like: "Alright, test me now," and then the results came back and, you know, for me I just thought I had allergies at first. You know, when I got back home that night it was rough, like fever body aches, you know the whole nine, so from there it was tough. But the team battled… obviously we talk in group text. You know, all the way through, watching the fight that was like life for me, really. I was sitting on the couch watching, but from there I'm a very relatively healthy person I consider myself so when that bug came and got me that was tough."
Tobias is proud of his teammates
The Sixers are incredibly unlucky, with many people coming in and out of the rotation, and for Harris, it was of utmost importance to help his teammates. Seeing them fight and play heavy minutes didn't sit well for Harris, who was willing to play even with restricted minutes if that means that would help other guys get some rest.
"Yeah, I mean we're down a lot of bodies and like when I was watching the Milwaukee game, I was like, "Man, this dude is logging 40 minutes," and I'm like if I can semi-go I'm not about to leave my guys out there to go play, I could work out and things like that I didn't look at this as me coming back from injury. This was like my body's healthy, you know my bones and muscles are healthy… I was like if I can go out there and play even play a couple of minutes. I did say I wasn't going to go play if I was on a minute restriction that's one thing I did say."
Watching his team from the sidelines made Harris realize he is surrounded by unbelivieable teammates who play hard and sacrifice for the ultimate great of the team.
"That we have hoopers on this team. Be ready for the opportunity and fill their role. They'll really go out there. Guys were just playing hard, like it was just a lot of heart out there. That's one thing you saw with us during the stretch. Obviously, we've got a very good road trip to go on and collect some wins. So we've just gotta get right back to it and get right on track and have that momentum and confidence as well."
The Sixers have a tough schedule in front of them; playing away games against several good teams and having Harris back is extremely important. They are currently sitting in 4th place in the eastern conference, and if they can snatch a few wins away from home, that will be an essential boost for the team, and Harris will have to have big games to put them in a position to win every game possible.