As the NBA season kicked off tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers had the honor of opening the season by visiting the Boston Celtics for a primetime game on TNT. Philadelphia made some major changes this offseason, adding more depth and established players to the roster. Last night was the first night Sixers fans would see this new team in action.
Team continuity will be the Sixers’ biggest test this season, and how long it will take for the team to put it all together. This was the biggest disparity between the teams last night as the Celtics — who have, for the most part, seen continuity, beat the Sixers 126-117.
Although the Sixers would have liked to win this game it is only one game of eighty-two this season. As the Sixers look to learn and build the chemistry the team needs this season to make a run this year there were sole early bright spots in this game that will bode well for this team as the season goes.
It’s been well-documented that James Harden took this offseason personally after hearing all last season that he is not the Rockets’ James Harden anymore. In last night’s game, James showed out, totaling 35 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, shooting 9/14 from the field, 12/12 from the free throw line, and 5/9 from three.
From the start of the game, Harden showed the explosiveness that last year you did not see. James had the three-ball going last night as well, something we were not accustomed to seeing consistently last season.
If this is the version of James Harden the Sixers will be getting this season with scoring and getting other players involved, and the team continues to gel as the season progresses, this team will be in good shape to make a legitimate run for the title.
The new additions to the team and the emergence of Tyrese Maxey require the roles of more established players to change. One of those players being Tobias Harris, as his new role with the team looks to be more of a shooter offensively.
Tobias finished the game with 18 points going 3/6 from three. In the past, Harris was a hesitant shooter from three, but this year it is clear this season in his new role, he has the go-ahead to shoot them. Tobias looked comfortable in taking those threes with no hesitation or thought going into it, with occasionally scoring at the rim when mismatches presented themselves.
In this lesser role offensively, one can look forward to seeing Harris grow in this role. His 3PA’s should also rise this season as Embiid, Harden, and Maxey will do the heavy lifting this year, which will create many opportunities for Tobias.
The Sixers’ Defensive Potential
During the game, it was evident the Philadelphia 76ers have much to do if they want to contend for a championship. There is one aspect of the game; however, that can potentially be a calling card for this team as the season progresses.
The Sixers, in the offseason, acquired PJ Tucker, Danuel House, and De’Anthony Melton. All of them are three-and-D players, which gives the Sixers the flexibility to switch almost everything on the defensive end of the floor.
Although the team needs to continue to build on the camaraderie needed to become a defensive force in the league, there were moments when you could see the potential of what this team could be in the future.