Philadelphia 76ers: What We Learned From The Season Opener


Philadelphia 76ers basketball is finally here. The Sixers opened up the season losing to the Celtics 112-95 in Boston. There is a lot of good and a lot of bad that happened during the season opener, and it gave us a glance at what this season could look like. Here is what we learned from the first game.

Nerlens Noel is really good.

Noel opened up the season with a double-double, and an impressive one at that. Noel finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and three steals. Noel played his role perfectly. Jahlil Okafor will be the stat stuffer, while Noel puts up nice numbers doing the dirty work. Noel still has to polish that offensive game to be a safeguard against Okafor’s double teams, but for now his game seems to allow Okafor to elevate his game. Noel is the unquestioned leader on the court, and his rapid improvement will be seen throughout the season. Be prepared.

Double teams are the only way to stop Jahlil Okafor…for now.

Jahlil Okafor made history tonight.

Jahlil Okafor finished his NBA debut with 26 points, which is the most for a rookie center in the past 30 years. Okafor started the game hitting his first five shots, which quickly prompted the Celtics to start double teaming the rookie. Okafor seemed uncomfortable dealing with the double team throughout the game, and struggled with the turnovers because of it (8 turnovers). As the game progressed, Okafor started to fight through the double teams and find open shooters on the wings. This game was an A+ for Okafor, even with the turnovers. Okafor seemed untouchable until the double teams started, and even then it was impressive watching him adjust throughout the game to counter the double. Okafor even played well in the weaker aspects of his game. Okafor finished the game with two blocks and went perfect from the free throw line, shooting 6-6. Okafor is a an..wait for it.. OkaFORCE already.

Guards are pretty important.

The guard battle was a hotly debated topic this offseason and it was easy to tell that there is a lack of talent in the back court. Isaiah Canaan put up 18 points, but struggled to move the ball and contributed to 3 of the 22 Sixers turnovers. Canaan also seemed to struggle with the flow of the offense and even put Okafor in bad offensive situations. TJ McConnell and JaKarr Sampson had pretty nice game to their standards, with McConnell racking up 4 assists and Sampson dropping 13 points. Hollis Thompson was more than awful, starting the game 0-9. With Nik Stauskas being a game-time scratch with back spasms, Sixers fans had to watch the guard collection for what they saw for most of the preseason.  The guards had no chance against their counterparts. Celtics’ guards Isaiah Thomas (27 points) and Marcus Smart (13 points) seemed to overrun the Sixers guards throughout the game. Once the Sixers elevate their guard game, it’ll be fun to see what this team could do with the already talented front court.

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Transition defense could use some work.

On multiple occasions, the Sixers seem to lose focus on the fast break defensively. On more than one occasion, the Celtics would find a way to leak behind Sixers players after a missed shot, and it cost the Sixers dearly on the scoreboard. Transition defense is a combination of focus and conditioning, factors that have seemed to disappear throughout the game for the Sixers. Coach Brett Brown will surely emphasize on this problem before the team’s next game.

The Sixers will be a lot easier to watch.

Although the team lost by 17, this Sixers team gives fans something more aesthetically pleasing to watch. The team now has an offensive stud that can keep them in games with efficient scoring, a more seasoned defensive anchor, a guy with his own hot sauce, and an even more win-hungry coach. This Sixers team is more competitive than ever under the Sam Hinkie regime, even with the double digit loss.

The next game for the Sixers is Friday, October 30th against the Utah Jazz at 7:00pm at the Wells Fargo Center.

Next: Which Sixers Players Are Poised For A Surprisingly Good Year?

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