October 30, 2015
Rudy Gobert (six blocks) took care of the defense, Derrick Favors (20 points) led a balanced offensive attack, and the Utah Jazz dismantled the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers, 99-71, in their home opener. Offense was hard to come by all night in South Philly, as even the Flight Squad was missing dunks in between quarters. At multiple junctures of the blowout loss, the home fans voiced their displeasure.
Nik Stauskas and Jerami Grant led the Sixers with 12 points each. Here’s what I saw:
• Where Wednesday’s opponent (Boston) offered very little rim protection, the Jazz have it in spades. What resulted, particularly in a 33-point first half, was a lot of dribble handoffs that didn’t actually advance the ball anywhere close to the rim. The presence of Gobert inside predictably proved to be quite the deterrent against drivers. The Sixers’ wings and guards simply couldn’t finish at all against “The Stifle Tower.”
• Despite the overall ineptitude, Jahlil Okafor didn’t necessarily have the most discouraging offensive game. Big Jah made a few plays in the pick-and-roll and off the dribble, and it wasn’t like he couldn’t create shots against the tall trees. He finished with 10 points on 4-12 shooting. Overall, he was an ugly -35 for the game. As a rookie, Okafor will certainly take some lumps. Tonight was the first of them.
• Okafor’s defense has been surprisingly decent to start the season due to excellent positioning, but he did a poor job against Gobert (6 OREB) on the defensive glass. Gotta get a body there, rook.
• Nerlens Noel (8 points, 2-12 shooting, 10 boards, 2 blocks) had a ton of trouble catching the ball and finishing on the offensive end.
• After a ton of waiting, Stauskas made his debut in a Sixers uniform. His nickname already appears to have caught on. When Stauskas knocked down a triple on his first touch, PA Announcer Matt Cord yelled “Sauucceeee Castilllooooo!!!” I LOL'd at that one. He finished 3-6 from the field (2-3 from deep), and showed some friskiness off the dribble.
• As much as the poor offense will be a focus (and it should be), the Sixers didn’t really guard anyone either. Brett Brown seems to be employing a less aggressive system than previous years (probably because of Okafor), but the Jazz guards still got into the lane with relative ease.
• Truthfully, I feel like this result is more in line until we see Robert Covington and Kendall Marshall/Tony Wroten return to the lineup. Brown echoed those sentiments after the game. That said, the Jazz are a tough matchup for a team that has trouble scoring.
Like the rest of us, the Sixers will get to celebrate Halloween at home. They’re off over the weekend and won’t be back in action until they host LeBron James (and his bad back, so we’ll see if he gets the night off) on Monday night in South Philly.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann