The good vibes around the 76ers new starting lineup lasted 12 minutes.
At the end of a sloppy first quarter, Philadelphia found itself down six, with eight turnovers, and they had watched T.J.Warren go off for 19 against them (he was just getting started). Joel Embiid was frustrated, and he said something to Shake Milton while shaking his finger at him like a disapproving parent, Milton took offense and started to go hard toward Embiid, but teammates came in and kept them separated.
After the game, Embiid tried to play the incident down,
“It’s basketball,” he said. “Everybody makes mistakes. It happens. We’ve gotta communicate better. As players, it happens everywhere. … You discuss what’s going on and you move on, you find a solution. But it’s nothing. It happens. It happens on every team and you just figure it out and you move on, and I’m sure everybody’s going to be better moving forward.”
Milton had a rough first night as a starter, with zero points on 0-for-1 shooting and three assists in fewer than 20 minutes on the court. Defensively the Pacers targeted him at times. In the fourth quarter, coach Brett Brown was going with Raul Neto at the point.
The Sixers’ new starting five can’t be written off after one game, but in this condensed restart to the NBA season there also isn’t a lot of time to ride out things that are not working and see if it will come around. Already this loss put the Pacers in control of the five seed in the East.
Embiid was a beast with 41 points and 21 rebounds on the night. Ben Simmons, starting at the four, had 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting but took just one shot outside the paint, a missed midrange jumper. The 76ers were considered a sleeper coming into the NBA’s restart in Orlando, but in the first game they looked like a team with the same old problems that held them back all season. Now with just more arguing.