While holding Denver to 75 points in the opener was impressive – the Nuggets averaged a league-high 104.1 points last season – there were some interesting items of note that came out of the Sixers' win.
Sure, it’s only one game, but it was nice to see the Sixers go 17 for 21 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Denver was just 5 of 11.
What’s so special about this? Well, again, it’s just one game. So there’s no reason to act like it’s a trend or anything like that. But last season the Nuggets led the NBA in FTA differential (+6.2). They also averaged a league-high 26.7 free throw attempts.
Conversely, your 2011-12 Sixers had the worst aversion to the line that we’ve seen in the NBA in quite some time. In fact, their 18.2 FTA last season came pretty close to breaking the NBA record (18.0) for fewest per game (a distinction held by those muscular 2005-06 Phoenix Suns).
The biggest surprise was with Jrue Holiday. The recipient of a sparkling new four-year, $41 million deal, Holiday went 4-for-5 from the line against the Nuggets (who, by the way, looked out of sorts on Wednesday. I don’t know what was up with that. However, I still think the Nuggets will be improved this season, substantially so if JaVale McGee’s basketball IQ starts to catch up with his freakish athleticism). With the ball in his hands more this season, Holiday has to be more aggressive at attacking the basket than he has in the past.
Last season, Holiday averaged a paltry 1.8 FTA per game, inexcusable for a guy with that size. Just seven times last season did he attempt five free throws or more in a game. He should top that number in the first month of the season.
The Sixers also looked pesky and very active on defense in forcing the Nuggets into 22 turnovers. Last season they forced teams into 20+ turnovers just three times last season. Also of note is that the Sixers had 13 steals and 11 blocks in the opener. The last time the Sixers had 10+ steals and 10+ blocks in the same game was vs. Sacramento on Jan. 15, 2010.