By Jack Ryan
Joel Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Ben Simmons scored 24 points and the Sixers opened the 2019-20 season by beating the Boston Celtics 107-93.
Boston and Philly combined for more than 60 fouls.
”It felt like a playoff atmosphere, already,” Sixers guard Josh Richardson said. ”It was ready to pop from the jump.”
Philly’s superstars can only do so much, and the other Sixers were clutch in the fourth when they needed them.
Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris buried consecutive 3-pointers – after the Sixers had missed 21 of 24 through three quarters – to stretch the lead to 10.
Simmons was smooth and sensational as he attacked the hoop for easy baskets. He used a nifty spin move in the paint to hit Kyle O’Quinn for a basket that made it 90-74. The packed house went wild as the backups, a weak spot in the postseason, put the Sixers on the decisive run. Simmons also had nine assists and eight rebounds, though he played his 161st career game without a 3.
”I’m skilled, I’m gifted, I’m pretty good at what I do,” Simmons said.
Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 25 points. Jayson Tatum had 21.
Kemba Walker scored 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting in his Boston debut, and Al Horford had 16 points in his first game with the 76ers.
Horford spent the last three seasons with the Celtics and was one of the few defenders that gave Embiid fits. Horford signed a four-year deal to come to Philly and quickly became a popular teammate. Walker was signed to a four-year, $141 million deal, the most Boston could offer, but $80 million less than the Charlotte Hornets could have paid him over five seasons.
”Tough night for many of us,” Walker said. ”I wish I could have played a lot better for these guys.”
About the only sign of a rough patch for Philly came when Embiid was drilled by Jaylen Brown’s elbow early in the third. Embiid pressed a towel to this face after the hit and did not talk to the media because of swelling.
Brown was whistled for his fifth foul, and Embiid sat out for a couple of minutes. He hardly seemed bothered by his mouth the rest of the game – he slid across the court as he tried to save the ball from going out of bounds, drawing a loud ”Let’s go Sixers!” chant.