Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Does anyone know if the Philadelphia 76ers have ever tanked before? I ask only because it seems like they're unclear on the mechanics of deliberate losing.
Judging by his stunning debut performance, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams was particularly unclear on the concept.
In what was easily the most shocking result of the night, Philly beat the Miami Heat by a final score of 114-110. The much-maligned 76ers, widely regarded as the league's worst team, took it to the Heat early, hitting their first 11 shots of the game.
And the rookie was right in the middle of everything.
"Everything was clicking tonight," Carter-Williams told the Associated Press, via ESPN. "If we can consistently play together, then we can be a good team."
MCW, criticized since his college days for a shaky jumper and a lack of strength, silenced critics everywhere with one of the single greatest opening nights any first-year player has ever had. He finished the Sixers' incredible victory with 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds, nine steals and one turnover.
According to Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick:
In doing so, Carter-Williams not only upstaged the present-day (LeBron) James, but the one who—10 years and one day earlier—debuted with 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists, four steals and two turnovers in a loss to Sacramento.
Laughing in the face of his scouting report, Carter-Williams was fantastic from long range, hitting four of six threes. And he even hit two foul shots (he was 6-of-8 from the line) to help ice the game in the final seconds.
MCW's near-quadruple-double would have been a spectacular achievement in any circumstances. But against the defending champs' trapping defense—the kind that typically tears untested point guards to shreds? Are you kidding me?
The Sixers may still go on to lose 70 games this season, but opening night belonged to them.