Ben Simmons resumed where he left off last year and posted impressive statistics in his debut game of the 2018 – 2019 NBA season.
Unfortunately, Simmons cannot carry the Philadelphia 76ers single-handedly through the season and on opening night, Philadelphia was not equal to the task posed them by the Boston Celtics.
Boston sent Philadelphia to the playoff exits last season and their 105 – 87 win in a successful defense of their home court sent an ominous message to the 76ers and the rest of the NBA that the Celtics might be a team of destiny in 2018 – 2019.
Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid wanted to shut down any talk of the two Eastern Conference teams being engage in a one-on-one vendetta.
“This is not a rivalry,” the All-Star centre said. “I don’t know our record against them, but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our a**. So this is not a rivalry.”
Embiid obviously feels that the 76ers need to get the two teams on more even footing before rivalry can be called.
Jayson Tatum carried the bulk of the load for Boston, scoring 23 points to lead all scorers from both squads.
Simmons was a one-man wrecking squad and posted 19 points, collected 15 rebounds, handed out eight assists and had four steals.
All Philadelphia need is four other Simmonses to play alongside the young Melbourner.
Sixth-year Head Coach Brett Brown was even-handed in his post-game remarks.
“I thought Ben showed signs of incredible athleticism and confidence to shoot some jump-shots,” Brown said.
Simmons spent extensive time in the off-season trying to improve his jump shot, with the intention being to become more proficient at three-point and foul shooting. The lack of a good shot made Simmons the target for teams to deliberately foul him near the end of narrow games, knowing that Simmons’ anemic 52 percent free-throw percentage almost guaranteed that he would miss one free-throw for every two taken, sometimes more in the pressure of a game on the line.
Brown mentioned that the 76ers need to do a better job in the assists category. The entire team, aside from Simmons, managed only 10. That was, according to Brown, the second-lowest number of assists the team posted for all of last season.