By: Kylan Watson
Despite the early season drama with guard Ben Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers opened their season against the New Orleans Pelicans. Philly was able to leave the off-court drama in PA. They were able to smother the Pelicans thanks to a late second unit offensive surge. They beat them 117-97.
The Sixers jumped on the Pelicans from the opening tip. Center Joel Embiid scored 12 of his 22-points in the first quarter, and they were able to get out to an early lead. Unfortunately for Philly despite Embiid continuing his dominance on the court some defensive lapses allowed the Pelicans to get back into the game.
Brandon Ingraham was able to impose his will on Philly. It did not matter who was on him. He was coring from the mid-range, three-point line, and the paint. He single-handedly powered New Orleans and erased the Sixers lead and tied the game by half-time. He scored 25-points and it seems like he is in for a good season especially once Zion Williamson returns. Philly was able to keep him in check. They were able to throw multiple defenders to hold him to a bad shooting night. He shot 12/26 from the field.
The Sixers were able to separate in the third quarter. When a late scoring run by Tobias Harris help them get out to a six-point lead. He was able to score some easy baskets off great defensive play. He scored 20-points and grabbed 12-rebounds. Harris’ scoring and defensive play will be a big focus this season. Especially without Simmons. His scoring and defense were big factors in helping Philly win their first game of the season.
On Harris’ impact, “Honestly, Tobias has been great from day one. His influence, his voice… he’s the leader. He leads by example. He leads by voice. I really do appreciate Tobias,” said Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey.
Harris was not the only X-factor as the second unit came up big in the fourth quarter to increase the lead and keep the starters on the bench. Guard/Forward Furkan Korkmaz scored 22-points and hit four three-pointers. He will be called upon to lead a new look second unit. His scoring will be important for the development of that second unit which will be called upon to press the advantage and limit the minutes for Embiid and Harris. The chemistry and development of this second will be the most important storyline of the season for Philly. They have spent a lot of money investing in that second unit. The success of the Sixers will depend on them getting consistent play from that unit.
On the win, “There’s never been any doubt for me. The main thing I’ve been preaching is go out there and have fun. In practice, our attitude is the same. We’ve been practicing hard, the same way we played today,” said Embiid.
Philly now will get a day off as they prepare for the home-opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. They will get an early opportunity to see if their money has been spent in the right places, and where they stand in the deep Eastern Conference.