I’m not going to sit here and act like it’s the end of the world because we lost to the Celtics last night. They are the best team in the East, and last night proved that.
But, what I AM going to do, is rip this Sixers team for their half-assed performance against a team that they should’ve brought their A-game for.
Aside from the lineup change with Fultz and Redick, this team looked exactly like the team we watched get smoked in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. Embiid was still careless with the basketball, Simmons still couldn’t hit a jump shot, Robert Covington still wasted a possession every time he touched the ball, and Fultz still looked like a deer in headlights on the court.
When the Sixers front office neglected hiring a General Manager to go out and lure one of the big-name free agents to town, I didn’t panic at all. Because I thought that the development of this team’s young core of players would improve their record by at least 5-6 wins. But after watching last night, it almost seems like no one improved over the offseason, which is beyond disappointing.
The most disappointing player from last night’s game had to be Markelle Fultz.
The front office of the Sixers clearly banked on the notion that Fultz would improve drastically over the offseason. Their refusal to go after a superstar in free agency was an indication of their faith in Markelle, not to mention the numerous times we heard coach Brett Brown rave about his improved shooting form and boosted confidence.
Fultz made his first NBA start last night, and finished the game with a measly 5 points on 2-7 shooting. The player he replaced in the lineup, JJ Redick, finished the game with 16 points on 7-17 shooting. In theory, it makes sense to start Fultz over Redick. Fultz is bigger, he’s more athletic, and he’s not a liability on defense like JJ is. But it’s going to be hard for BB to justify starting him if he continues to perform like he did last night.
And to make it all even worse, we had to watch the player who was selected after Fultz tear our defense apart. Jayson Tatum was the best player on the court last night. He finished with a team high 23 points on 9-17 shooting with 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Every time I watch him, it’s impossible for me not to think, “wow, what if we drafted him over Fultz?” He’s going to be a thorn in our side for the next decade.
I’m not jumping the ship on Fultz yet though, I don’t think it’s fair at all to do that quite yet. This is essentially his rookie season and I expect him to take at least a month or two to get his sea legs under him.
A lot of fans seem to think that if Fultz doesn’t turn into a superstar that he’s complete bust, and I disagree with that. If he can be an adequate starter for us at the 2 I’m completely fine with that, but that’s only if the Sixers go out next offseason and bring in another superstar to compliment him and the rest of their young core.
Fultz wasn’t the only disappointment from last night. To be honest, the entire team was disappointing. Aside from some highlight reel passes by Ben Simmons, I can’t think of one solid positive to take out of last night’s debacle. It was just one of those games.
But, the fact of the matter is that the Celtics are the best team in the Eastern Conference, I just thought the Sixers were closer to them than they actually are. That’s really where most of my frustration stems from. They still look like the same team as last year. Even our two superstars, Embiid and Simmons, looked like the same exact players from last season. They both still had their share of highlight plays but it just doesn’t seem like they took that next step that we were all hoping for this season.
Sure, Simmons took a few more jump shots, but he didn’t make any of them.
Sure, Embiid still led the team in points, but he also led the team in turnovers.
It’s the same story as last season.
By no means am I panicking about this team though, and I don’t think anyone should. It was only the first game of an 82-game season. They’re bound to improve as the season progresses, or at least I hope they do. Opening the season like they did could end up being a blessing in disguise for this team, maybe it was the kick in the ass that they needed.
Their next game is this Thursday against the Chicago Bulls. Hopefully, the outcome isn’t as disappointing as last night’s.