NBA basketball is back and it feels so good!
Unfortunately two critical turnovers and slow start to the team chemistry cost the Sixers an otherwise winnable game. Covington was locked in from long range, leading the team in points. Ben Simmons debuted with a double-double and Embiid played nearly 50% more minutes than anticipated.
Covington had ice in his veins, finishing 7-11 from long range for a total of 29 points. He led the team in scoring and looked out to prove he’s more than just an elite defender, knocking down shots in transition, off the step back, and off the catch-and-shoot.
Simmons again looked comfortable playing in the point guard position. He ran the transition with ease and seemingly has eyes in the back of his head, dumping the ball to trailing teammates for easy baskets. When asked what it was like playing with Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, Simmons said, “It felt like I was playing [NBA]2k honestly.”
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) October 19, 2017
Markelle Fultz played well off the bench, looking confident with a good shooting percentage from the field. His free throw form still leaves A LOT to be desired, but his play making and ballhandling were on display with several impressive plays in traffic.
Somewhat surprisingly, Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson, and Jahlil Okafor combined for 0 minutes despite Amir Johnson fouling out after 15 minutes and Embiid’s minute “restriction.” After a fairly decent preseason showing from a lighter Okafor, it was expected the Sixers would use some of the minutes Embiid wasn’t getting to showcase him for possible trade partners. That clearly wasn’t the case.
Perhaps the most encouraging statistic of the night was the number of minutes Joel Embiid played. Despite Coach Brett Brown’s insistence on slapping Embiid with a 20 minute restriction, he finished the game with 27. In a tight match against a top-4 conference opponent, Brown opted for winning over development. The team clearly played better with Embiid on the floor and Brown chose to go with what was working.
It seems Brett Brown may agree with Embiid’s take on his minutes restriction.
WATCH: Joel Embiid said it…🤬
Hear the full quote. 😳https://t.co/Awe2cuky51
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 17, 2017
The Sixers will take on the Boston Celtics in their regular season home opener at The Center on Friday.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports