Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers
David Dow

Philadelphia 76ers star guard James Harden has had a very solid start to the 2022-23 NBA season, but now he's going to have to spend some time on the sideline. Harden is expected to miss a month of action after suffering a right foot tendon strain, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by CBS Sports. Harden suffered the injury during Philadelphia's 121-11 loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Harden went back to Philadelphia's locker room during the second half of the contest, but he ultimately returned to the court and finished the game. He finished with 24 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in 35 minutes of action in the contest. 

The Sixers have gotten off to an underwhelming 4-5 start to the season, and things will be even tougher for them moving forward without Harden for the foreseeable future. On the season, Harden is averaging 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds per performance. He's the only player in the league averaging at least 20 points and 10 assists per performance. The estimated month-long timeline for recovery will keep the star guard on the sideline for the entirety of November and should see him back out on the floor sometime early in December. The Sixers have 13 games remaining in November. 

In Harden's absence, the Sixers will have to rely more heavily on Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey for offensive production. Embiid has missed three games so far this season and hasn't quite looked like himself when he has been out on the floor. Shortly after the start of the season, it was revealed that Embiid dealt with plantar fasciitis over the offseason, and that could have had an impact on his early-season performance. 

Maxey, on the other hand, has continued his ascension and built off of the momentum that he established for himself last season. So far this season, Maxey is averaging career highs in minutes (37.8), points (24.2), rebounds (3.4) and field goal percentage (51). With Harden out, the ball will be in Maxey's hands much more, and it will be up to him to initiate offense and generate scoring opportunities for his teammates. This is probably the area of his game that needs the most work, and now he's going to get plenty of practice. 

In a competitive Eastern Conference, the Sixers have to hope that an extended absence from Harden won't have too big of an impact on the standings. They also have to hope that the injury is one that Harden is able to completely recover from and that it doesn't linger. Missing some games in November and December is one thing, but Harden will have to be fully healthy come playoff time if the Sixers are going to make any real noise.