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3 Things We Learned From Philly’s Season Opener

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Here’s the thing about season openers: they don’t amount to much during an 82-game grind. For instance, the reigning world champion Warriors — the untouchable super team that finished 58-24 and swept LeBron James under the rug – lost their opener last season to the Rockets. So when the Sixers lost to the Celtics, 105-87, Tuesday night in a game many had them penciled in to lose anyway, well, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, the crushing defeat sent Twitter into a negative spiral. Pump the brakes and relax, everybody! There are 81 games left and the Sixers will figure it out, but here are three things we learned from Tuesday night:

1. History Repeating

One reason fans were jumping off the bandwagon was this one felt familiar, right? The Sixers couldn’t throw a penny in the ocean, shooting a dismal 5-for-26 from beyond the arc and looking tentative, even JJ Redick. The man supposed to play the “microwave” role was 2-for-8 from 3-point land and 7-for-17 from the field. Credit the Celtics for an aggressive defense, but the Sixers had open looks and missed them. Dario Saric (0-for-6) was an utter disappointment in that area, too, although he got himself into early foul trouble. Some people were pointing to the offseason losses of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova for decreased efficiency, but that’s not completely fair. Remember, the Sixers were without three key injured cogs off the bench: Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler and Zhaire Smith.

2. An Important Question

This was supposed to be the moment Markelle Fultz proved his doubters wrong and showed why he was worthy of the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, he turned in a rather forgettable performance, while Jayson Tatum was the best player on the floor for long stretches. To be fair, this wasn’t a total dud for Fultz – and it wasn’t all his fault because he wasn’t out there long enough. He finished with five points in 24 minutes, with 21 of them coming in the first half. Head coach Brett Brown isn’t going to rush Fultz’s progress and the minutes he did log were meaningful. In the first half, Fultz flashed his athleticism on a pull-up jumper, snagged a steal in the lane from Al Horford and converted that highlight-reel over-the-head pass from Ben Simmons into an easy lay-up.

3. Generational Talent is Here

How much can we gush about the Aussie sensation? Simmons once again showed why the comparison to LeBron James are justified. His game is cerebral, from the behind-the-back passes to the lockdown defense on Kyrie Irving. His 19 points and 15 rebounds effortlessly filled up the box score, while falling just two assists short of what would have been his 12th career triple-double. Outside of Tatum, Simmons was the star of this game. Yet, amid all that drool-worthy talent, he needs to develop a consistent, reliable mid-range shot. It would make him that much more dangerous when he magically penetrates into the lane. Hours after the game, Simmons posted an Instagram video of himself and Fultz shooting in the gym at 2 a.m. Sixers fans have to love that kind of dedication.

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About Mike Greger

Michael Greger grew up the son of an Eagles season-ticket holder before serving as Sports Editor at Metro Philadelphia where he covered the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies and Flyers. He co-edits the popular Philadelphia sports blog, PhillySportsJabronis.com, and regularly freelances for several local publications, including Billy Penn, Philadelphia Weekly and NBC Sports Philadelphia. He is well respected in local and online sports circles due to his extensive work navigating the pulse of the Philly sports fan. His favorite Sixer of all-time is Scott Brooks – as a player, not a coach – and he isn’t ashamed to admit that he cried during Allen Iverson’s retirement ceremony. Trust the Process.

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