Philadelphia 76ers: 3 things to watch on opening night

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
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2. Al Horford switches sides

One of the biggest offseason additions made by the 76ers this offseason was the signing of Al Horford.

Not only did this move address a need for another big man and forward, but it also took away one of the toughest parts about playing their bitter rival Boston Celtics. As any Sixers fan would have you know, if anybody has had Joel Embiid’s number since entering the league in 2016, it has been the five-time All-Star.

In eight games played between the two, Horford holds a winning record of 6-2. Even with Horford seemingly dominating the Sixers’ center game-in and game-out, the truth is, Embiid has still averaged 22.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in his career against the Celtics. What Horford has done successfully, however, is slowed Embiid’s scoring production down – holding Embiid to a 42.5 field goal percentage (which was below Embiid’s season average of 48.4) and has made the Sixers score 7.3 points fewer when Horford was matched up on Embiid last season.

Now that same player that was slowing the dominate Embiid down is on his side, making the Sixers frontcourt all the more dangerous for opposing teams to handle.

Besides the Horford Embiid narrative, the addition of the perennial All-Star quickly bolsters the Sixers starting lineup.

Horford is coming off of a 2018-19 season, where he put up 5.7 field goals per game with a .535 shooting percentage and 13.6 points. He also averaged 1.8 offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds a game. Not to forget his 4.2 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.3 blocks averages from last year. These numbers can definitely get fans excited about Philly’s new big man tandem.

Not only will Horford be paired with a player he’s used to squaring off against, but he gets to reunite with an old teammate from his days with the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Scott, who had nothing but positive things to say about Horford, stating:

"“Al is a great guy, he is a professional, a hard worker, has a great work ethic, knows the game and is a leader…He is breaking down plays, stopping the defense [in practice] and talking to us about how to defend certain players.”"

Entering his 13th season in the NBA, Horford also brings a veteran presence and mindset to the team that can hopefully be absorbed by the young players.

In a lot of ways Horford can fill the role of 2015-16 Elton Brand while playing like 2010-11 Elton Brand – a major get for any team with an even mix of young players and vets.

Seeing how Horford performs and meshes with his teammates for the first time makes him one of the top things to watch during opening night.