There were some powerful dunks from Joel Embiid, sightings of Ben Simmons doing Ben Simmons things and even a Markelle Fultz jumper.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, there was also more evidence that they can’t contain the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers found out just how far they still have to go to reach the Celtics’ level during a 105-87 road loss to open the 2018-19 NBA season.
Let’s dive into some observations from Tuesday’s opener.
• Let’s get right to what everyone wanted to see coming into opening night: Fultz.
The second-year guard started a regular-season game for the first time in his young career and much like his rookie campaign, it was an up-and-down adventure.
Fultz had his moments like when he sank a 14-foot jumper early in the second quarter and finished off a sick pass from Ben Simmons at the rim (see video). But there were also some offensive mistakes and poor reads on defense.
However, what was most glaring was Fultz’s (five points on 2 of 7 shooting and a game-worst minus-16) performance when sharing the floor with Simmons. The 20-year-old mostly deferred to the reigning Rookie of the Year on offense and was content to simply drift around the court.
Fultz has to be some sort of threat to score when playing off the ball for the Sixers’ new starting lineup to be completely effective.
• For all of the talk about how Brett Brown’s decision to start Fultz would impact the young guard, it was mostly glossed over on how it would impact the veteran he replaced.
JJ Redick struggled to find his game early on in his first night as a reserve since April 3, 2014. He was 7 for 17 from the field and 2 for 8 from three-point range for 16 points in 30 minutes.
Redick hasn’t come off the bench regularly in four years, so expect there to be an adjustment period.
• It’s the first game of a new season and we don’t want to be the ones to overreact, but here it goes: the Sixers will never reach the championship level they are striving for if they continue to turn the ball over at such a high rate.
The Sixers have never finished better than 29th in that category under Brown and they seem well on their way to the basement again after committing 16 turnovers Tuesday.
Despite Joel Embiid’s solid 23-point, 10-rebound, two-block effort, he remained the main culprit. Embiid, who noted ball security as one of his main points of emphasis, had five giveaways in the loss.
With the team destined for some rough patches as it implements a new defensive system, the Sixers can’t also try to overcome extra miscues.
• Whether he has a consistent jump shot or not, you have to love watching Simmons play.
A guy that’s 6-foot-10, 230 pounds weaving his way through defenses like a car in traffic and finishing at the rim with authority is a sight to behold. He even managed to do some work by posting up Tuesday, which was lacking from his game last season.
Simmons got what is expected to be his first All-Star Game candidacy underway with a near-triple-double as he notched 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
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