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Celtics 105, 76ers 87: Familiar mistakes doom Sixers in season opener

The NBA season definitely begins on Thursday and there is nothing you can say to change my mind.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

While there are plenty of good things the Philadelphia 76ers want to bring back from last year’s 52-win team, it was their struggles from last season which resurfaced in Tuesday night’s season opener in Boston. The Celtics led throughout the night, defeating the Sixers 105-87 behind 23 points from Jayson Tatum.

Philadelphia could not find a rhythm on the offensive end. The 3-pointers were not falling and the turnovers began to add together as the Celtics pulled away in the second half.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons continued to lead the way for the offense but it was not enough to get a road victory. Embiid scored 23 points on 9-for-21 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and two blocks but his five turnovers seemed to come in the worst moments for the Sixers.

Simmons neared a triple-double in the opener but fell just short on the assists. The second-year player scored 19 points while shooting 50 percent from the field. He grabbed 15 rebounds and finished with eight assists, four steals and two blocks. Simmons still turned the all over three times and shot 5-for-11 from the free throw line.

In the first half, the Sixers looked like they were playing another game as a part of the 2017-18 season. Embiid and Simmons were the only two players to find consistent offense for Philadelphia but both players struggled with turnovers. The Sixers finished with 11 turnovers and shot 35 percent from the field in the first half.

In his first career start, Markelle Fultz played more first-half minutes than every Sixer other than Simmons. The 76ers were outscored by 12 points in Fultz’s 21 minutes on the court in the first half. He only played three minutes in the second half and finished with 5 points on seven shots to go along with three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Fultz showed flashes but the Sixers will need to find more production to warrant that amount of playing time.

Redick started the second half in place of Fultz but was unable to bring an offensive boost to the lineup. He made just three of his first 11 shots and one of his first five attempts from beyond the arc. He found his stroke in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points on 17 shots.

T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet both saw more minutes in the second half with Fultz sitting on the bench. McConnell scored 4 points and dished 3 assists in 22 minutes. Shamet played 12 minutes and scored his first NBA point but missed all four shots from the field.

Robert Covington and Dario Saric did not have much to add on the offensive end. Covington knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter but only finished with just 8 points. As always, he was a force on the defensive end and collected two steals and one block. Saric finished with just 6 points and did not score in the second half.

While Philadelphia’s struggles came back, it was the same trio of players which have haunted the Sixers since May. Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart became sharp shooters, knocking down two 3-pointers each. Tatum’s 23 points came on 52.9 percent shooting. Kyrie Irving was held to just 7 points on 14 shot attempts.

The Sixers will return home on Thursday night for the first Wells Fargo Center game of the season. They will look to get into the win column as they host the Bulls on TNT.

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