In the season opener for not only the Philadelphia 76ers but the league as a whole, the Sixers and Celtics traded blows early and entered halftime knotted at 63 points apiece. Unfortunately for those Philadelphians thinking their sports teams were now invincible, Boston opened up a double-digit lead in the third quarter, and with Boston hitting one jumper after another, the Sixers never really threatened to completely close the gap, eventually falling 126-117. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the charge for the Celtics, each dropping 35 points, and shooting a combined 15-of-21 from the field in the second half. Despite the loss, we need to award our first Bell Ringer of the regular season, so let’s take a look at the Sixers’ top performances.
James Harden: 35 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 turnovers
Sure, the Sixers lost the game, but if this is the version of James Harden the team will get this season, that’s the most important takeaway from tonight’s season opener. The Beard’s 35 points were his highest since joining the Sixers, and he racked them up in a variety of ways. As advertised, Harden looked fully healthy in this one, getting plenty of lift for his patented stepback threes. James would finish the night 5-of-9 from behind the arc, also drawing fouls on multiple outside jumpers, bolstering his box score with a 12-of-12 night at the charity stripe. He also had enough burst to get to the rim, diversified his attack with a couple buckets in the mid-range, and dished some pretty assists out of the pick-and-roll. The only nitpick was a couple careless passes for turnovers, including one where he thought he got fouled and just kind of threw a lazy cross-court pass expecting a whistle. Still, all in all, tonight’s performance was just about a best-case scenario for Harden at this stage of his career. This was MVP Harden lite and night and day from what we last saw at the end of the 2022 postseason.
James Harden with 16 points in the first quarter— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 19, 2022
Beard is Back!
Tyrese Maxey: 21 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover
It wasn’t an extraordinarily dominant night for Maxey, but we did catch a glimpse of “preseason Tyrese” when he caught fire across a few minutes at the beginning of the fourth period. He finished with nine points in the quarter, and if the Sixers had been able to string any sort of stops together, Maxey looked poised to get them back into the game. The warp speed blow-by ability was still there from Tyrese, but we also saw him continue to gain confidence in the three-point shot, shooting both quickly and from a couple feet behind the arc when the opportunities arose; he finished 2-of-5 from downtown. You’ll take 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting against one of the best defenses in the league.
Maxey SZN has begun pic.twitter.com/XwpeWMB9ZW— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 18, 2022
Tobias Harris: 18 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 0 turrnovers
Tobias had an excellent first half, scoring 14 points prior to intermission on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown. Unfortunately, he vanished in the second half, as his only points after halftime came on garbage-time buckets in the last minute and change of the game. But what did we want to see from Harris in his current role? A quick trigger and willingness to let it fly from three. He attempted six triples on the night (making those three from the first half), and at least four of them were instant releases on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Tobi continues to settle into this post-Harden-acquisition role.
Who is the Sixers’ Bell Ringer in the opening-night loss to the Celtics?
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