Wednesday night your Philadelphia 76ers opened the 2019-20 season against heated rival the Boston Celtics. Two franchises flush with history, tonight’s game was extra important to one of the Sixers’ new stars, Al Horford. Horford spent the past three years playing for the Boston Celtics before signing with the Sixers this offseason.
For those who don’t know, the Sixers have instilled a recent tradition of having a recognizable person ring a miniature Liberty Bell before each home game. Tonight, the Sixers knew no one was a better fit than Al Horford.
The Center was filled with energy from the tip and you knew that the next 48 minutes were going to be electric. There was a physical tone set early by both teams. It was interesting to see the early rotations also as Coach Brett Brown went deep to the bench very early.
This game was ugly to start for both teams. The Sixers could not buy a bucket from three and it really hurt their offensive flow. Chemistry issues also hurt the Sixers but that can be expected when you add two new starters.
Joel Embiid was double-teamed early and often, initially causing confusion but the more it happened the more you could see not just Embiid but the whole team adapting. This WILL happen much more this season so the team adapting is very important.
Both teams were getting to the line but were not making the most of it. Control of the quarter went to the team that hit more threes. Unfortunately, that was the Boston Celtics.
Early game sparks
Josh Richardson is a FLAT. OUT. NASTY. BALLER. Coming out and immediately making a difference for your Sixers, Richardson had people saying “Jimmy who?” Creating contact, ball handling, hard-nose defense, J-Rich did it all early and often.
One, or rather two exciting moments early on came on the first buckets by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Ben Simmons threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Embiid for his first points and then, in turn, Embiid later threw another alley-oop to Simmons for HIS first points of the season. There is nothing more exciting than seeing that kind of connection early in the season.
The Sixers started figuring their chemistry issues and righting the ship. Catching up to the Celtics the Sixers starting exchanging punch for punch not allowing the Celtics to pull away and, in fact, began to close the gap.
Continuing to force contact the Sixers forced their way to the line early which not only helped their offense but force Jaylen Brown to sit on the bench for most of the game due to foul trouble.
The team was not playing like they wanted to but there was clear improvement from the first quarter.
This is where the Sixers really started to heat up. The offense was fluid, the defense was stingy, and the players looked much more comfortable next to each other.
Celtics’ new addition Kemba Walker gave the Sixers issues to begin the game scoring 10 points in the first half but the Sixers made the right adjustments to hold him from there on out.
Sixers’ Rookie Matisse Thybulle had a chance to show out too in his first game. A little shaky at first, come the third quarter Thybulle was everything he was advertised to be. A disruptive defender, Thybulle wasn’t locking players down but was an opportunistic defender forcing key turnovers.
One scary sight, Joel Embiid caught an elbow from the Celtic’s Jaylen Brown causing a noticeable amount of blood. Embiid not only quickly recovered but sparked his team to a run to get some separation on the scoreboard.
This Sixers finished the third quarter up but not out of the woods yet. They continued to pound the ball inside and draw contact. their threes started to fall and their defense continued to be stifling.
Together, this team locked down the Celtics and soon pulled the game from within reach. With a little flash, the Sixers took their first game in style against a division rival. On top of that, we had an opportunity to see some of the extended bench in the final minutes.
In the end, your Sixers took this game by a score of 107 to 93. Holding any team under 100 points in today’s NBA is an accomplishment but in a divisional matchup especially one that we may see again in the playoffs it was downright encouraging.
One other fun note, typical Sixers killer, Kemba Walker was held to 12 points. Walker again had 10 at halftime meaning he was held to only two points in the second half. The man who scored 60 on us last year was held to two in a half. That won’t happen every time but it’s still exciting to see.
In the end, all starters scored at least 15 points. Ben Simmons, in particular, had himself a game finishing with a near triple-double. 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists ain’t half bad for a season debut.
Next game up
We have to wait a few days for some more Sixers action but there will be plenty of highlights from this game to enjoy until then. Look for your Sixers to matchup against Blake Griffin and the Pistons in Detroit this Saturday, October 26 at 7 pm EST.