The Philadelphia 76ers earned a win in their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans with a final score of 117-97. Although Ben Simmons was absent, the team put together a positive performance on the road against a Zion Williamson-less Pelicans to open the season. Tyrese Maxey started at point guard and earned 20 points 5 assists and 7 rebounds. Maxey needed to shake out his opening night struggles to start but settled into a groove throughout the game and proved to be a solid starting PG for the squad.
The biggest story of the night, however, came in the fourth quarter when Furkan Korkmaz exploded for a 5/5, 18 point quarter while converting on 4 threes. Furkan wasn't the only contributor off the bench either. Georges Niang also had 11 points and 1 assist while Andre Drummond came down with a whopping 17 rebounds, 15 of which were defensive. Back on the starting side of things, Tobias Harris put up 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists, and Joel Embiid had 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while also adding a steal and a block to his stat line. The team as a whole shot 51.8% from FG and 52% from 3-point. When asked about the team's performance after the game, Joel Embiid said, “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.”
The large question still remains on if Ben Simmons will ever return to the floor with the Sixers. In a 20 point victory without Simmons, the question arises on if the team will hurt that badly without him. The Sixers received their fair share of Simmons slander from the crowd tonight when they started chanting "Where is Ben Simmons?" but it didn't seem to phase the second-year point guard replacement. Tyrese Maxey showed signs of being a solid starting point guard tonight and give glimpses what he offers as the floor general for the team. Maxey's first live run with the first team guys proved to be a success, and he seems to be improving day-in and day-out. Sure, Maxey doesn't offer nearly as much of the defensive skillset as Simmons, but his offensive awareness, agility and shooting ability gives him a lot to work with on the offensive end. There's upsides and downsides to each player, regardless, Maxey made a great case for himself moving forward.
Another great aspect of tonight's game came from the bench production. Two of the Sixers largest offseason signings in Georges Niang and Andre Drummond proved to be great additions to the squad both helping out in different ways. Drummond offered his great rebounding ability and gave the team a back-up center with great court awareness and passing ability. Niang gives the team another great offensive option to score and even cycle the ball around the floor to get a great look. Both guys give the Sixers a nicely spread bench lineup and great guys to integrate into a solid rotational lineup.
Joel Embiid's impact on the floor can never go unnoticed either. In the first 9 minutes of the game, Joel Embiid had already racked up 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. He only faired to score 10 points the rest of the game, but his leadership on the court was still apparent. Embiid was able to get guys looks out of a double and swing the ball around the floor, especially to his fellow baller Tobias, who looked like another great leader out there for the Sixers. Both guys seemed to look smooth on the floor together and get the rest of the team involved and engaged on both ends of the floor. When Maxey was asked about Tobias's impact on him he said, “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.” The Sixers two leaders showed up in the opener and set the tone for a competitive team going forward.
The Sixers return to action Friday night at home against the Brooklyn Nets with tip-off being slated for 7:30.