If there was any positive to take away from the Sixers’ 48-point loss on Tuesday night, it may have been the play of their newest veteran player. No, not James Harden. He won’t be available until after the All-Star break. But Paul Millsap made his Philly debut and flashed his trademark toughness.
Millsap, a four-time All-Star, scored nine points in nine minutes during an embarrassing 135-87 defeat to the Boston Celtics. The veteran forward provided a fleeting spark off the bench for an otherwise hapless Sixers’ squad. He added three rebounds and one assist on 3-of-6 shooting in his first game at Wells Fargo Center. It marked Millsap’s first action since January 13 and he told Doc Rivers he felt “pretty good” after the game.
“He’s been playing pickup games in Atlanta,” Rivers told reporters. “But this is NBA basketball, and he will add some toughness to us, there’s no doubt about that. He’ll be able to step out and make threes for us at the five spot. And that will be something we’ll work on.”
Millsap was seen as a throw-in in the Harden deal, but that’s the second time Rivers has mentioned carving out a significant role for him off the bench. That should be news to the 37-year-old’s ears after he was phased out of the Brooklyn Nets’ rotation. Millsap has been a reliable presence in his 17 NBA seasons while averaging 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
“Tonight for me was just really learning. Trying to get a feel for the guys,” Millsap told reporters. “Get a feel for the game plan and everything that goes with it. So, it’s still a whirlwind right now, trying to figure all that out. But, it’s gonna come and wherever I see fit, to where I can get in and help this team, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
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Harden Serves as Ceremonial Bell Ringer
Harden was introduced to the Philly faithful in an introductory press conference on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. He talked about winning championships and serving as another mentor to the younger guys on the roster.
Then, Harden made his grand entrance – all decked out in a pink cut-off jacket, with matching sneakers and color-patched jeans – and rung the Sixers’ ceremonial Liberty Bell prior to tip-off. Sixers fans nearly brought the house down.
Too bad Harden’s energy didn’t translate over to his new teammates. The Sixers played their worst game of the season as they cling to the No. 5 seed with one game left before the All-Star break.
“We didn’t have much,” Rivers said of the loss. “I thought offensively was as poor as I’ve ever seen us, ever.”
Philadelphia Eases COVID-19 Restrictions
The City of Philadelphia announced it would no longer require residents to show a proof of vaccination when entering indoor establishments. According to Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the mask mandate will remain in place.
The new guidelines apply to restaurants, bars, theaters, stadiums, concert venues, etc. That means Sixers fans can enter Wells Fargo Center freely for home games moving forward. It also means that unvaccinated players (see: Kyrie Irving) will be permitted to suit up for road games in Philly.