DETROIT — A positive of the 76ers’ down-to-the-wire loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday was that newly acquired All-Star James Harden played with the aggressiveness coach Doc Rivers prefers.

That 32-point, 9-assist performance for Harden came on the heels of a pregame conversation with Rivers, during which the coach encouraged Harden, a three-time NBA scoring leader, to look more for his shot.

“He’s trying to fit in and get guys going,” Rivers said, “and I told him, ‘No, thank you. … We just need you to be you. Don’t worry about everyone else. As long as you and Joel [Embiid] are in the right spots, we’ll figure out everyone else. But we need you to think of yourself as a scorer, not the way you played in Brooklyn, the way you were a point guard and trying to run the team.’

“We want him to be the James [from Houston], and [against the Bucks] he was, so that was a big step for us.”

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Rivers and teammates have marveled at Harden’s passing ability since he arrived in Philly, and he entered Thursday ranked second in the NBA with 10.1 assists per game with eight regular-season games to go. Yet a self-critical Harden said after Sunday’s loss at Phoenix that his 11 field-goal attempts “isn’t enough for me.” When asked before Thursday’s shootaround, Rivers would not put a hard number on how many shots he would like Harden to take each game, but reiterated that Harden struck the right balance Tuesday.

Another way Harden could generate more scoring opportunities is when the ball swings to him for spot-up attempts. The typically ball-dominant Harden has not gotten many looks like that in recent seasons, but Rivers said Harden spent time following Tuesday’s shootaround working on such shots.

“He rarely shoots them, so he’ll get used to that,” Rivers said. " … He said, ‘I haven’t had a spot-up swing … ever.’ So now he’s getting them, and that’s good, because he’s a great shooter.”

No planned rest vs. Pistons

Rivers said before Thursday’s shootaround that the Sixers do not plan to rest any players against the Pistons, but suggested that could happen for one or both of the Sixers’ two remaining back-to-backs over the regular-season’s final 11 days.

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Following Thursday’s game in Detroit, the Sixers play the Charlotte Hornets at home on Saturday afternoon and then travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers Sunday night. They also finish the regular season with a home back-to-back against the Indiana Pacers and Pistons on April 9 and 10, respectively.

Harden has rested the second game of both back-to-back sets -- on March 5 at Miami and March 21 against the Heat -- since making his Sixers debut. Embiid also rested March 21, a game the Sixers won without their two stars. Harden has been managing a hamstring injury, which occurred before the blockbuster trade with the Nets, while Embiid was nursing a sore back at the time and is also on pace to set a career high in games played.

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Rookies Charles Bassey, Jaden Springer, and Myles Powell, who are all currently with the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats, are the only players listed on the Sixers’ most recent injury report.

Niang dabbling in media

After launching an interview podcast called The Big Niang Theory with the Sixers earlier this season, reserve forward Georges Niang is now the subject of a digital docuseries called Niang Time that debuted Wednesday on TorchPro’s platform.

The first episode covers Niang’s pregame routine, from a haircut to elaborate stretching with a trainer to selecting his outfit. The second episode focuses on his individual workouts with longtime shooting coach Joey Burton. There will be six episodes, including one where Niang, a newish Philly resident, embarks on a quest to find his favorite cheesesteak in town.

“I’ve never really let anybody in to see what I do or the day in the life of me,” Niang said. “I thought that was pretty cool to open up and show that. Because I remember, when I was a kid, those were things that I wanted to see. I tried to offer that and think about my life through what a younger kid or somebody that looks up to me would [want to] see.”

Niang said he would like to pursue broadcasting after his playing career, and has participated in the “Sportscaster U.” program offered through the National Basketball Players Association.

Veteran wing Danny Green also co-hosts a podcast called Inside the Green Room.