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76ers' Tobias Harris scores playoff career-high 37 as he seeks to model life after Christ

The Philadelphia 76ers, the No. 1 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs, are off and running in the 2021 postseason, thanks in large part to the efforts of Tobias Harris.

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He set a new playoff career-high with 37 points (28 in the first half) while shooting 15 of 29 from the field, to help the 76ers secure a 125-118 win in Game 1 of their first-round series against the No. 8 seed Washington Wizards on Sunday. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out two assists.

In his 10th NBA season out of the University of Tennessee, the 28-year-old power forward is having one of the finest seasons of his career. His averages of 19.5 points (while shooting over 50 percent), 6.8 rebounds and a career-best 3.5 assists per game helped the 76ers to a 49-23 record.

Philadelphia’s first-round matchup comes against a hot Wizards team that was 17-32 in early April but finished with a 34-38 record. They had to beat the Indiana Pacers in the NBA’s first-ever play-in tournament to advance.

Hopes are high in Philly and in the 76ers locker room that this team will be the one to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2001, when MVP Allen Iverson led the 76ers all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2020-21 season is the first time in 20 years that Philadelphia is the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

To once again reach those heights, the 76ers will need consistent production from someone other than superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Harris believes he can be that guy.

“I know who I am. I know my game. I know my ability,” Harris told the media after Game 1. “Maybe that has been criticized in the past with different situations and whatnot, but I know one thing that I bring to this team night in and night out, and that’s somebody that’s going to play to win.

“That’s what I hang my hat on every single night.”

Harris’ performance this season garnered some consideration for an All-Star spot. Ultimately, he wasn’t selected. Yet in a Deeper Worship Intensive “Team Edition” segment this April, he told William McDowell, a pastor and gospel singer, that he remains grateful for the life he’s been given.

“Every day I wake up understanding how blessed I am,” Harris said, as reported by The Christian Post.

Harris said his community outreach in Philadelphia and beyond has highlighted the ways he’s been blessed throughout his life. In 2019 through a “community draft” held at a Philadelphia elementary school, he donated $1 million to nine different charities, $600,000 of which went to charities based in the city.

Harris’ true happiness is rooted in his relationship with Christ, regardless of the challenges of life in the NBA.

“I look at it like if I’m playing basketball at the NBA or if I’m a principal at a school, which is something I would love to do when my career is over, I’m going to find ways to always bring Christ out in my life,” he told McDowell.

Harris’ Twitter bio says, “Just walking in the path the Lord has laid out for me,” and he’s been known to tweet about Jesus.

Harris has also spoken publicly of his faith on national TV after big games and even after being traded.

In 2015, Harris told Razz and Jazz Sports that, β€œAny person I meet, I try to embrace them and show them love so that they know I’m a Christian. Jesus Christ was a loving man and as Christians, we have to try to enable our lives after Jesus Christ.”

Game 2 between the 76ers and Wizards is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET from Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

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