Coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t worried in the least that two of his starters, Danny Green and Tobias Harris, had less-than-stellar season debuts during the 76ers’ 113-107 win over the visiting Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
The Sixers showed that they don’t have to be on all cylinders to win, albeit against a Wizards team that may be improved but still could struggle to earn a postseason berth.
The Sixers had to overcome a lot, including a third quarter in which they committed nine turnovers and didn’t score their first point until 6 minutes, 6 seconds remained in the period.
Entering the fourth quarter down by 10 points, the Sixers began feeding Joel Embiid, Things changed, and they were able to earn Rivers his first win for his new team. Embiid scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to bail the Sixers out.
Had Embiid not done so, even more attention would have been on starters Green, making his Sixers debut, and Harris.
Green, who has won three NBA titles with San Antonio, Toronto and this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers, had just two points in his Sixers debut. In 18:18 of playing time, he shot 1-for-6 from the field while missing all four three-pointers.
Also known as as defensive stopper, Green had trouble staying with Bradley Beal, although most of the rest of the NBA is in that same boat.
Still, Green had a rating of minus-27. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
“Danny has not played a lot,” Rivers said. “Did you watch the Lakers play?”
Rivers was referring to the Lakers’ opening 111-106 loss to his former Los Angeles Clippers team on Tuesday.
“It’s tough. These guys played so late,” Rivers said about the Lakers, who clinched the NBA title with a 106-93 victory in Game 6 over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11.
Rivers’ point was that less than two and a half months later, the Lakers and ex-Lakers, like Green, were back playing regular-season games.
So Rivers is not going to panic over the early-season play of the 33-year-old Green.
“He’s not young, and so I’ll be patient with him,” Rivers said.
Harris had much more offseason rest. He and the Sixers ended their season on Aug. 23 when they lost 110-106 to the Boston Celtics, who swept the opening-round playoff series.
Against the Wizards, Harris was getting good looks, but he wasn’t making shots. He was 3-for-13 from the field, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, finishing with 10 points in 31:18. Harris also had eight rebound, two turnovers and no assists and a minus-7 rating.
“He just missed shots. I thought he was hesitant,” Rivers said about Harris.
As with Green, Rivers is not concerned.
“We will watch the film. We will get him [on track]. He will be fine,” Rivers said.
When asked if he felt Harris was pressing, Rivers said, “I am not smart enough to get in his head, but he will be fine.”
In the fourth quarter, despite missing his three field goal attempts, Harris hit all four free throws and had a plus-9 rating.
Green is entering his 12th season, while this is the 10th NBA season for the 28-year-old Harris.
Both will look at the next game, Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, to earn some early-season redemption.