The Sixers officially tipped off the 2019-2020 season tonight when they hosted the Guangzhou Loong Lions. The first half was pretty fun. I had so many things to talk to you about (like all of The Matisse Falcon’s deflections) before the moment when Ben Simmons heard the crowd implore him to pull a triple as the first-half ended and he did and he also hit it. Yep.
The starters were great. Al Horford was 2-4 from deep, and made some nice defensive plays. He appeared to be playing a bit of quarterback on offense as well. I wonder if he’ll occupy some of that high-post a triangle offense might require, where he can make reads and find open wings or cutters. He’s got great vision. Tonight was a sign of things to come. Simmons and Tobias Harris gobbled up all the dimes but Horford was certainly looking for them too. Josh Richardson was 6-9 from the field and 3-5 from downtown. He also had 3 dimes and two steals. He’s definitely going to be a fan favorite with his quiet confidence and blue-collar work ethic. Joel Embiid chipped in 17 points in just 14 minutes. Yeah, he’s still great.
By 7:06 remaining in the third, the starters were on ice. Simmons was on pace for a triple double and had a game high +40 plus minus when he sat down.
Are there any rotational takeaways we might gleam from the game? Maybe, as our resident expert, Adam Aaronson has already begun charting:
Zhaire Smith, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz checking in for their first appearances of the game. The Sixers are up 109-56.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) October 9, 2019
So how did the rest of the game go? With Raul Neto eventually taking over for Trey Burke, Shake Milton hit a pair of triples.
The team had a 117-61 lead heading into the final period and took it down 144-86. Trey Burke, James Ennis III, Marial Shayok, and Matisse Thybulle all cracked double figures in points off the bench. Thybulle, the 20th pick in the draft, looked regular-season ready with his disruptive two way play and 2-4 from long range.
Zhaire Smith eventually cracked the rotation and showed his springiness, but looked a little bit rusty. Once he dusts off the cobwebs, however, the upside is apparent in the type of athlete and defender that he is. Philly fans are going to be delirious with the type of selflessness and boundless energy Smith can provide in time.
Marc Zumoff, who enjoyed his 25th anniversary last January as voice of the 76ers, had the evening off, and I noticed that his fill-in Serena Winters was quite the natural. She was crazy well-versed on each player, a very natural play-caller and had a fun chemistry with Alaa Abdelnaby. Not that Zu needs to watch his back, but the Sixers should keep her talents close to the vest so another team doesn’t make a call for her play-by-play services.
All in all, it was fun to see the team get out there. The ball-movement looked pretty good and figures to be a monster component to this team’s success. We know Brett Brown is a Spurs disciple, so as he says, defense trumps everything, and the pass is king. That certainly seems to be the team’s early identity.
But much more importantly, Ben Simmons in case you forgot, took and hit a three. That’s all that history will remember.