Sixers’ Shooters a Non-factor in Opening Night Loss to Celtics

Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid battle it out on opening night. (via Brian Babineau/Getty)

Just 12 days ago, the Sixers played the Dallas Mavericks in China. JJ Redick scored 28 points and didn’t miss one shot. Landry Shamet and Furkan Korkmaz came off the bench and provided a significant scoring touch that helped them get the win.

Naturally, I thought I would write an article about how the Sixers shooters would play a big role in helping the Sixers win this season despite losing two of their best shooters from last season.

The Sixers spent all of Tuesday night’s season opener making me look foolish

5-for-26. The 76ers made five three-pointers in 48 minutes.

Robert Covington was 2-7. Joel Embiid was 1-4. JJ Redick was 2-8. That’s it. Dario Saric missed all four of his attempts, Landry Shamet missed two, and TJ McConnell missed his lone attempt. Furkan Korkmaz played one minute!

Can you believe they lost?

Opening Night
Jayson Tatum drives the lane and gets the open dunk in win over Sixers on opening night. (via: Getty Images)

Opening night against the Boston Celtics, a team widely regarded as the best team in the East and the Sixers’ main foe in the battle for the top of the conference, and the Sixers came out with that.

It was as if Tuesday’s opener was actually just Game 6 of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals rather than Game 1 of the 2018-19 regular season. We saw the same exact Celtics team from a few months back. Kyrie Irving wasn’t playing, Aron Baynes making threes despite shooting 18% for his career, and Terry Rozier looking like a top 5 point guard — of all-time.

“This is not a rivalry. I don’t know our record against them, but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass,” Joel Embiid told reporters after the loss.

3-11 over the past two years, Joel. Your record is 3-11.

We shouldn’t take credit away from the Celtics, however. On a night where their superstar point guard was essentially taking a sick day and Gordon Hayward was getting back into the groove of things, the rest of the team took control just like they did when the two went out last year.

Jayson Tatum is an unbelievable talent — even if he does push-off every time he isos — finishing the night with 23 points and nine boards. Marcus Morris had a double-double in just 21 minutes. Terry Rozier was a +22 and brought in 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench, as well as doing this to a man who stands at approximately seven feet tall.

The Celtics didn’t exactly have the best shooting night either, hitting just 29% on 11-37 from the perimeter, but the mere threat of having almost anyone on the roster willing and able to shoot kept the Sixers’ defense on their toes.

See that block by Rozier on Embiid above? Rozier was able to cheat so far into the paint because he was guarding Markelle Fultz who has yet to show the threat of an outside jumper. Now, Embiid deserves some blame as well for tunnel-visioning, but the Celtics deployed the same strategy against the Sixers in every matchup last season, leading to the lopsided match-ups between the teams.

After seeing how the Sixers have been game-planned for in their past six outings, all of which were against the Celtics, it won’t be a surprise if other teams take advantage of the sag-off strategy that Brad Stevens has been so successful using.

Getting shooters like Korkmaz and Shamet some consistent run in games to build confidence will be key for long-term success because on nights when Redick and Covington go cold, the Sixers cannot afford to give up the perimeter.

Giving up the perimeter leads to Embiid double-teams in the paint which has proven to be his biggest kryptonite considering his high turnover rate.

The main takeaways from the opener:

  • The Sixers have to shoot if they want to win. Simple as that.
  • Ben Simmons is freakishly good.
  • Jayson Tatum is terrifying.
  • Who is Markelle Fultz? No one knows!
  • Kyrie Irving can go missing and the Celtics can still win. If Ben Simmons went missing, I would cry a lot as I watch RJ Barrett highlights.
  • The Celtics may be the deepest team in the league, although the Raptors may have something to say about that.
  • The Sixers should request a rule change where they never have to play Boston ever again. Please.

One more thing: it’s the first game of the year and this whole article could be moot in a month. Maybe the Celtics are horrible and the Sixers go 81-1, or maybe the Sixers get banished to the Shadow Realm while Guerschon Yabusele hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The NBA is too unpredictable to have measured takes right away because honestly, no one knows what will happen next (except the Warriors winning because, uhhh, DeMarcus Cousins).

The reality is that things change a lot and, who knows, maybe Markelle Fultz will shoot a three-pointer in a game that matters before I’m dead?

One thing we do know, however, is that TJ McConnell, Markelle Fultz, Landry Shamet, and Amir Johnson should never be on the floor together unless the plague has made a return and stationed itself on Broad Street.

The two squads reunite in two months where they will undoubtedly decide to ruin Christmas Day for myself and many others if the Sixers do not improve dramatically from deep.


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