The Philadelphia 76ers began their 2012-13 campaign on Halloween night with an 84-75 win over the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center, but got embarrassed by Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in game two. It’s difficult to gauge the progress of this team just two games into the season, especially when Andrew Bynum hasn’t played yet, but I’ll do my best.
When news broke that Andrew Bynum would be missing a few weeks early in the year to make sure his knees would hold up this season, my expectations for this team dropped slightly. I still like the core. Jrue Holiday has been as advertised so far, prompting Doug Collins to say he believes Jrue will finish top 5 in the league in assists. Jrue currently leads the team in with 20.5 points and 9 assists per game. Spencer Hawes is playing with a lot of energy and producing at a high level, similar to how he started last season before injuring his achilles. Dorell Wright and Thad Young have also scored the ball well. But if these first two games were any indication, we should expect a lot of inconsistent play from the team as a whole, at least until Bynum returns to the lineup.
The Nuggets led the NBA in points per game last season, scoring just over 104 per contest, and most experts believe they got better this offseason. The 76ers came out on opening night last Wednesday and held them to 75 points on just 37.5% from the field. While the Sixers offense struggled at times, they made enough shots and played terrific defense from start to finish and held on for a victory. And oh how sweet that victory was, especially knowing Andre Iguodala was on the other end of it.
The Knicks on the other hand had their way with the Sixers, breaking the century mark while holding Philly to 84 points. Iguodala’s absence was evident, as no one on the Sixers roster could keep up with Carmelo Anthony. Anthony scored 27 points on 11-18 from the floor but easily could have had more if the circumstances were different. Thad Young, Evan Turner and Dorell Wright all spent time on Anthony, but it didn’t matter. Turner in particular struggled defensively all game, as JR Smith got wide open looks. Turner also looked bad on the offensive end, but I’ll wait a few more games before totally ripping into him.
The Sixers have a rematch against the Knicks tonight at the Wells Fargo Center before heading on the road for three straight against New Orleans, Boston and Toronto. While I’d love to think the Sixers should go 3-1 this week, I’ll take 2-2 as long as one of those wins is tonight against New York.