The Philadelphia 76ers did not get their season off on the right foot in a season opening 105-87 loss to the Boston Celtics. Joel Embiid stated after the game that “This is not a rivalry. They always kick our ass.” He’s right. The Sixers look helpless at times when matched up against Boston. They are deeper and have an abundance of guys who can put the ball on the floor, making it extremely difficult for teams like the Sixers, who lack athletic wings, to defend.
Sure, Dario Saric was in foul trouble early. That pretty much hindered him from getting into any type of rhythm. And the Sixers were without two key bench pieces in Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. So, Brett Brown’s hands were tied. But throwing out a lineup with TJ McConnell and Markelle Fultz in the second half really made no sense at all. Especially after making the move to have Redick start the third quarter in order to get Fultz more reps at his natural point guard position.
Markelle Fultz was a -17 when he was on the floor with TJ McConnell last night (7 mins); +1 when he was on and TJ was off (17 mins).
Fultz took one shot with TJ on the floor; six with him off the floor.
— Legs Legs Mesa (@legsanity) October 17, 2018
Zhaire Smith and Markelle Fultz’s development can certainly help close the gap between the Sixers and Celtics, but for now the Sixers can only work with what they have.
Speaking of Fultz’s development, it’s imperative that he continues to shoot like he did in the 127-108 win over the Chicago Bulls. His form looks clean, in particularly off the dribble. If those shots begin to fall, it will make Joel Embiid’s life a lot easier. The Sixers have had trouble in the post through two games thus far because teams don’t respect Fultz and just sag off of him. That makes it easier to double Embiid down low.
This is a good example of how Markelle Fultz can hurt the spacing of the #Sixers' starters right now.
Rozier is able to sag so far off Fultz that he's in perfect position to get a help block on Embiid (the paint is so crowded with Fultz and TJ off ball): pic.twitter.com/sTWYA9dNWJ
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) October 17, 2018
Antonio Blakeney and the Chicago Bulls had the same idea when it came to defending Fultz and Embiid.
The Sixers did do a better job of knocking down open shots against the Bulls. They shot 12/36 (33%) from deep as opposed to 5/26 (19%) against Boston. That helped Ben Simmons notch his first triple double of the season before the end of the third quarter. It’s no secret that the Sixers M-O is the three pointer. When they’re hitting from beyond, they can be unstoppable.
We hope that trend continues when the Sixers take on the Orlando Magic Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.