The Philadelphia 76ers took down the Boston Celtics 107-93, the first of hopefully many wins this season.
It was a hard game to watch. The two teams combined for 63 fouls, 25 turnovers, 41 missed 3s, 24 missed free throws, a frustrating number of video reviews, a flagrant foul, and a failed coach’s challenge. Despite all the sloppiness, this was a lot more fun than opening day last season, when the Sixers were thoroughly outplayed by Boston. Tonight, they looked like the superior team.
Ben Simmons was the MVP tonight, going for 24 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists on 11-of-16 shooting. He looked a lot more confident and decisive, taking everything strong to the basket. There wasn’t a single instance in which he picked up his dribble early and put up a low-percentage shot, which he was prone to do last season. Even without the jumper being there, he looks much improved offensively. That’s great news for this season.
Joel Embiid struggled offensively, shooting 5-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-8 from the line for 15 points. He played just 23:15 due to a combination of foul trouble and the Sixers leading by double digits, but he did add three emphatic blocks.
Al Horford showed a willingness to take 3s, but he really struggled from beyond, going just 1-of-6. It wasn’t just Horford. The whole team had a hard time getting the deep ball to fall, shooting 7-of-29 as a group.
Josh Richardson was 0-of-4 on threes and 4-of-12 from the field, but his 9-of-9 night from the foul line got him to 17 points, and he looked comfortable handling backup point guard minutes. Defensively, he was impressive, locking down Boston’s quick guards and picking up a steal and two nice blocks.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle got the most minutes off the bench. He had just three points, but added two blocks and two steals. Besides Thybulle, only James Ennis, Furkan Korkmaz, and Mike Scott got more than four minutes. Ennis stood out as a guy who won’t be happy with how he played tonight. Hopefully we get to see some more of the other guys going forward.
The Sixers are back and they are for real! Next game is Saturday at 7pm against the Pistons in Detroit.