And to think he was questionable coming into the game.
The Sixers cruised to a 126-98 victory Sunday night over the Portland Trail Blazers in their home opener. Joel Embiid was a wrecking ball on both ends, putting up 35 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and six blocks.
Tyrese Maxey had another explosive night, going for 26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Tobias Harris continued to have a very quiet hot hand, scoring 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- It once again took the Sixers a few minutes to wake up. They went over three minutes before making their first field goal, but unlike last night, it did not take until the second quarter for Maxey to get going. He knocked down a couple of threes to cap off a 12-0 run as this two-man action above the break has become something him and Embiid go to quite often.
Maxey bringing the heat early with back-to-back triples pic.twitter.com/1WojwBPUOp— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 29, 2023
- Defensively, Philly was fairly disruptive from the opening tip. As a team, they recorded three steals and blocked five shots. There were also considerably less breakdowns that led to easy layups in the quarter.
- This was easily the best quarter De’Anthony Melton has had in this young season. After really struggling last night to create offense, he dished out five assists in the opening frame tonight. The Sixers are cutting considerably more this year, and Melton took advantage of how open they were early tonight, hitting four different teammates cutting to the basket in the first. Philly led by eight after the first.
- It appears that Danny Green is the odd man out tonight with Danuel House, Jr. checking in late in the first and Jaden Springer seeing some second quarter action after not playing last night. He had an eventful first 90 seconds on the floor, picking up three rough fouls but recording another earth breaking pin-down block.
- Philly’s offense went into a pretty bad lull during this stretch, allowing Portland to retake the lead. There wasn’t nearly as much movement as there was in the first, and they struggled to get open with that much stagnation.
- There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Paul Reed taking a three-pointer every other game or so. He’s going to be left wide open and if he can make the defense pay for that once in a blue moon, great. The threes he’s taken this year though have not only looked pretty hopeless, but they’ve come at the wrong time too, taking them early in the shot clock and towards the top of the key. It hasn’t been the best start of the season for Bball.
- Embiid brought the Sixers back into it out of sheer frustration. A series of calls and no-calls got him angry enough to pick up a technical after punching the stanchion. A couple of very aggressive drives to the basket and the Sixers were back in front. They took a six-point lead into the break behind 24 first-half points from Embiid.
- Philly looked ready to put this one away as soon as the second half got underway. They allowed only six points over the first half of the third, cruising towards a 20-point lead. It was truly a block party tonight, with the team recording 16 blocks on the night. Six of those rejections were Embiid’s.
- Here’s something you don’t see everyday: Joel Embiid leaking out in transition to get behind the defense for a fast break. This was a really impressive find by Melton who finished with eight assists on the night.
- Embiid was playing a lot more relaxed in the third, throwing no look passes to Maxey and Harris on the perimeter and doing some DX crotch chops after an and-1. The Sixers took an 18-point lead into the fourth.
- Another very poor run of offense for the second unit as they were terribly sloppy with the ball. It didn’t end up mattering much tonight as the game was well in hand, but you’d still like to see a lineup with Maxey, Harris and Oubre out there operate more smoothly.
- While they didn’t look great to start the quarter, the lineup out there did its only job and that was to give Embiid the whole fourth quarter off. Portland wasn’t able to cut the lead below 16, making it a rare stress-free fourth quarter.
- How about that, some days off! The Sixers’ next game is at home this Thursday. They’ll take on the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. ET.