Welp, the Sixers sure didn’t miss James Harden Saturday night.
Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid were dominant in the Sixers’ 114-107 win over the Raptors. It was very fitting as Nick Nurse recorded his first victory as the Sixers head coach in his return to Toronto.
Maxey finished the night with 34 points, seven assists, six rebounds and just one turnover. Embiid matched him with 34 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and also just one turnover.
The Sixers improve to 1-1 as they host the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night in their home opener.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Another start in which Philadelphia’s offense looked rather clunky. De’Anthony Melton continues to look overtasked with how much creation he has been asked to do. P.J. Tucker is an odd fit for the egalitarian style of offense the team says they want to run. It’s been tough to fit him in there without a general passer setting him up in the corner.
- Embiid clearly wanted to just find a rhythm, as many of the possessions in the quarter resulted him taking pull-up jumpers from the elbow. Embiid and Harris were literally the only Sixers to attempt field goals until Kelly Oubre, Jr. checked into the game. Embiid did have his touch early, putting up 14 first on 5-of-7 shooting.
- Toronto had no problems getting into a rhythm. They went a perfect 7-of-7 from three as just about every Raptor who touched the floor made them pay from beyond the arc. The Sixers trailed by nine after one.
- Maxey, who might as well have been a ghost in the opening quarter, was able to be plenty aggressive in his second shift. He had to go to the line to get himself on the board, but knocking down this jumper was enough to get him hot. The second unit erased the lead completely thanks to Oubre and Maxey.
- A slight difference in the rotation tonight, as some brief first half minutes went to Danuel House Jr. instead of Jaden Springer. House was fine if not a bit quiet in his five minutes of action, finishing a fast break started by Maxey and recording one steal of his own.
- As the starters filed back into the game, Philly’s defense seemed to fall into lapses. They allowed four straight layups as the Raptors promptly retook the lead. Offensively wasn’t much better, as they scored only five points over the last five minutes of the half, but a three from Maxey made it a three-point game at the break.
- Much better defense from the Sixers allowed them to start the second half on a bit of a run. Tobias Harris continues his quietly great start with a couple of steals, but it also helped that the Raptors shooting regressed to the mean some.
- Maxey’s three-point shooting did not regress to the mean at the half as he was an inferno from beyond the arc. It was an impressive looking hot streak as many of his shots had a fairly high degree of difficulty.
Rese is 4/5 from beyond the arc. pic.twitter.com/X8l46sSvPk— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 29, 2023
- A short scoring burst from Scottie Barnes prevented the Sixers from turning this into a 20-point game in the third. Maxey’s onslaught only continued, hitting tough runners and a beautiful bit of playmaking in which he looked Oubre open and hit him with a bounce pass under the basket. The Sixers took a 12-point lead into the fourth.
- Both games so far, Nick Nurse has started the final quarter with both Embiid and Maxey on the bench. With the lack of playmaking on the roster, it makes shot creation during these lineups an adventure. Nothing too catastrophic happened there tonight, as Embiid and Maxey checked back into a 10-point lead.
- Second-chance points, a big Sixer weakness the past couple of years, helped the Raptors hang around in this game. They grabbed 13 on the night, six of them coming in the fourth quarter.
- The results of Maxey and Embiid’s performances aren’t as encouraging as the way they got those performances. Maxey was running actions with Embiid all night, using his speed and the attention Embiid drew to bend the defense. Embiid was much more focused as a passer. looking for guys on cuts while not getting too fancy. He finished with eight assists to one turnover.
- We’ll do this all again tomorrow! The Sixers will host the Portland Trail Blazers for their home opener at 7:30 p.m. ET.