Sixers’ opening loss to Celtics a reminder of ‘old habits,’ familiar issues to overcome

BOSTON — Tuesday night time at TD Garden indisputably felt a lot more familiar than the Sixers envisioned. 

Though 4 avid gamers made their Sixers debuts, issues the workforce knew too neatly ultimate season factored closely in a 126-117 season-opening loss to the Celtics. 

“Long way to go,” Joel Embiid mentioned following a 26-point, 15-rebound trip. “Defensively, we were not good. Offensively, I thought the ball didn’t move much. It stuck and we went back to our old habits. It’s all on us. All of us, we’ve just got to be better.”

One ordinary factor: The opposing bench had higher ball dealing with, extra scoring pop, and extra certain have an effect on than the Sixers’.

Malcolm Brogdon gave the Celtics 16 issues on 7-for-11 capturing and Grant Williams added 15 on simply 5 field-goal makes an attempt. The Sixers’ 2nd unit jointly posted 11 issues on 4-for-13 capturing. In the 2021-22 marketing campaign, the workforce was once twenty eighth in bench scoring. 

“I like how our starters played overall,” Sixers head trainer Doc Rivers mentioned. “I didn’t like how our bench played overall.”

Though the Sixers used 10 avid gamers, Matisse Thybulle best noticed the ground for roughly 24 seconds as an end-of-quarter defensive specialist. Montrezl Harrell subsidized up Embiid and Paul Reed didn’t play. 

“Just I thought Montrezl earned it,” Rivers mentioned of that call. “I thought he played well in the preseason. We liked the matchup tonight because they go small and Trez usually has a great effect. But Trez has to play better.”

 

The Sixers additionally struggled, as they regularly did ultimate yr, with defensive necessities. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had been unbelievable in combining for 70 issues on 27-for-44 capturing, however P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. didn’t strikingly raise the Sixers’ protection in Game 1. 

“I just think we got beat off the dribble a ton — just open-court blow-bys — and that breaks you down,” Rivers mentioned. “Then the next guy helps, and that leads to a shot. I thought honestly, just controlling the ball, we had a poor night. Just keeping the ball in front of us. That led to so many other mistakes.”

Embiid emphasised a not unusual weak point for groups incorporating new avid gamers. 

“Communication,” he mentioned, “especially if we think they’re going to play with that lineup and have me guarding Al (Horford) spacing out in the corner where I can’t really help on those actions that they ran at the end of the game. We’ve just got to communicate better. We’ve just got to be on the same page; we’ve got to be together.”

Again, the Sixers’ transition drawback was once stark. At a positive level, it gave the impression each and every one of the workforce’s 14 turnovers was once sure to have disastrous effects — a crowd-thrilling Tatum slam or back-breaking Marcus Smart 3 — and the results weren’t a long way from that belief. 

The Celtics scored 24 fast-break issues and the Sixers notched simply two. Boston had 169.2 issues consistent with 100 transition performs, in accordance to Cleaning the Glass, whilst the Sixers had 75.0. 

James Harden appeared very threatening when going downhill — and in maximum different eventualities, too — on his manner to 35 issues, 8 assists and 8 rebounds. He didn’t have a ton of professional alternatives to assault backpedaling defenders, despite the fact that. 

The Sixers couldn’t string in combination stops. And, whilst they plan to play extra disruptive protection this season, they compelled a modest 10 giveaways on Tuesday. 

“Every team preaches we get defensive stops, we get out in transition, and we’re a better offensive team,” Harden mentioned. “Everyone appears like that. But I feel for us, we have now a probability of being actually excellent on each ends of the ball — like, top-five is the target. Right there, you give your self an automated probability to be the ultimate workforce status. 

“Defensively, we weren’t great for the course of four quarters tonight, but we’re working our way in that right direction. Limit our turnovers offensively. Defensively, in transition we can be a lot better, and (then) we’ve got a really good chance.”

On the opposite finish of the courtroom, the Sixers hope for fewer slow-developing possessions and “my turn, your turn” stretches.

 

There’s transparent room for development. Rivers stressed out access (and re-entry) passes to Embiid heading into the season, however the Sixers want when their center of attention on getting him the ball doesn’t give a contribution to minimum ball and participant motion because the shot clock dwindles.

“It’s a tough balance,” Rivers mentioned. “We’re now not like maximum groups which are guard-oriented, popping and all that, so that you’re going to the submit. I assumed it was once beautiful excellent general. I assumed a couple of instances … when Joel places the ball at the flooring and turns his again to the protection, they’re coming each and every time. I feel we’ve were given to take care of that higher. 

“They fronted him once and no one flashed to the nail in time. They came, but it was 10 seconds late. So there were a couple of things that made us stagnant there. But overall, I’d say I’d take it.”

Embiid’s evaluation of the Sixers’ offense was once much less beneficiant. He’d just like the workforce to discover extra of the chances that stem from his pick-and-roll with Harden.  

“We’ve just got to keep playing off of each other,” Embiid mentioned. “We’ve simply were given to have a couple of movements. I assumed every now and then they defended that pick-and-roll beautiful neatly. But however, what’s subsequent? The ball can’t stick. In the ones eventualities, we’ve simply were given to stay transferring the ball, going to the second one motion. It simply doesn’t forestall on the pick-and-roll. Even in the event that they forestall it, we have now a 2nd and 3rd motion, whether or not it’s taking part in with him and myself, converting aspects and all that.

“There’s so much we can do out of that, but we just can’t let the ball stick.”

The brightest phase of Tuesday for the Sixers is that Harden’s appearing was once now not what the workforce got here to be expecting ultimate season.

But, with the Bucks up subsequent in Philadelphia on Thursday, the 33-year-old redirected a query about himself. 

“I feel pretty solid,” Harden mentioned. “We’ve got a long journey, long way to go, but it’s not about me individually. I know what I’m capable of. It’s about doing the right things to try to help this team win. For us, we feel like we had stretches where we were playing very, very well, and then times where we allowed them too many easy points. Especially on the road, it’s going to be difficult to recover. Learning lesson. Watch the film, get better, be ready to go Thursday.”

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