You know how big this was. For Michael Carter-Williams. For Brett Brown. For Evan Turner. For all these guys that have been told ever since the Jrue Holiday trade that they were horrible and barely NBA players and fit to lose 70 games. For the Sixers to walk out and beat the MIAMI HEAT on opening night -- it's such a great feeling for us as stupid fans of a normally-terrible franchise, and even better for the players and coaches.
Miami, coming off a no-doubter last night against Chicago, started off.... sluggish... to say the least. The Sixers lead 23-2. MCW started his pro career with a steal and fast-break dunk. Evan threw one down over LeBron. Spencer Hawes (my boy) hit a runner around Chris Bosh. MCW nailed a corner three. It was sheer delightful chaos.
We're all hoping for a great draft pick. Sam Hinkie, of course, hopes for the same. But don't think for one second that Sam Hinkie isn't amped out of his mind right now. It's his first gig as GM. He has built a team of young players that will lose lots of basketball games. In no way does that mean he's rooting against this team to succeed on opening night against the defending champions. He is thrilled. You should be too. This is a win. A strong, non-cheap team win that we can all rally behind when they're 8-48 in a few months.
We'll have more on MCW tomorrow but YIKES. What a performance. I didn't love him at Syracuse, but over the past few months it felt like -- well, maybe surrounding him with legitimate players (now we can call players on the Sixers "legitimate") would be enough to take some pressure off him and he doesn't have to try to do as much as he did at Cuse. It's one game, but DAMN does that look like the case.
His shot selection was nearly perfect. He drove to the basket. He defended really well (though lost some guys in rotating -- that'll happen). He rebounded. Got his hands in a crazy amount of passing lanes. He took threes in rhythm. Everything he did was nearly perfect. He looked poised as hell. For a rookie, there have been few performances as good... ever. For a rookie in his first game? Wooooooooo......
22 points (6-10 FG, 4-6 3PT, 6-8 FT), 12 assists, 9 steals, 7 rebounds, 1 turnover. After one game, I kinda think I'm ready to answer this question.
Aside from a few HEROBALL Evan plays, he stayed really within himself tonight. Got to the basket, broke his man down off the dribble, and most importantly -- finished inside and got to the line. He's been baaaaad at converting around the rim in his career and it seemed kind of like that was just bound to change by accident, as I expressed with desperate hope in this week's Ricky Sanchez. Evan was 4-6 around the rim and got to the line 6 times.
He didn't hit too many outside shots, but did enough to where the defenders had to stay honest on him. Great individual defense on LeBron James. GREAT defense. Dude steps up when he has to. We'll see if he lasts the season -- his option needs to get picked up by Thursday if the Sixers want to (doubtful) -- but for now, let's just enjoy the good stuff, huh?
26 points (on 19 shots), 5 assists, 4 rebounds. All-Star candidacy: commence.
Best thing I can say about Brett's offense is just how refreshing it felt. Moving the ball! Getting out in transition! Pushing after misses and makes! It wasn't just the bland dribble-handoff basketball -- in fact, I can't remember a single dribble-handoff. He's the perfect coach for this team, the guys buy into him as a coach, and I couldn't be any more thrilled that he won his first game over the Miami Heat, a team that he last saw raising a trophy over his Spurs last summer.
A billion points on BOSS shooting and just being a dirty, dirty beast.
-- Big ups to Spencer Hawes, who also had a very strong game. Holy crap he had a REALLY strong game. Dude just has touch around the basket. He also knows his way around a margarita. Played solid if not spectacular defense on Bosh. I think this system is really perfect for him offensively though.
-- Tony Wroten! We are going to have some kind of fun with him this season. Spike called him a less good, less annoying version of J.R. Smith. I'm into that.
-- Thad didn't have a good game. But that's cool! He'll get his. Always fun to see Thad wiggle around the court and do Thad things.
-- Daniel Orton impressed me. He didn't do a ton, but I think he's your first big off the bench for much of the year. I don't think Lavoy Allen is trustworthy on any level. Orton looks fleet and able. Pumped about him as Nerlens Noel's backup for years.
-- Speaking of Noel, GUYS NERLENS NOEL IS ON THIS TEAM TOO. Imagine what it's going to be like when he's playing with MCW. Man. This is great.
-- James Anderson: solid. He looks plump, which I sort of like in a 2-guard. He hit a few shots, badly missed a few, and did more all over the court than I thought he would. He's not a liability anywhere, which is nice.
-- What is a Darius Morris?
Treasure tonight. We are the fools. Embrace our foolishness and we'll get to the end when we get to it. For now, our ragtag bunch of analyticals just beat the Miami motherflipping Heat in a game of basketball.
That's really damn cool.