Yes, NBA basketball games were actually played on Friday night. After an offseason full of drama, roster moves and coaching changes, the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers and some team from Australia (apologies to Melbourne United) suited up for the year’s first preseason games.
We won’t get into too much analysis — it is just the preseason after all — but there were plenty of notable moments on Friday night. Most importantly it was just exciting to see NBA basketball once again. First, we’ve got the scores (which not many people probably care about), then we’ll give you 10 things you may have missed if you didn’t realize games had started yet. Enjoy, and welcome back to NBA action.
NBA preseason scores for Friday, Sept. 28
- Philadelphia 76ers 104, Melbourne United 84 (box score)
- Charlotte Hornets 104, Boston Celtics 97 (box score)
1. Gordon Hayward is back (and rusty)
It’s been less than a year since Gordon Hayward suffered a catastrophic leg injury five minutes into the 2017-18 season, so it was great to see him out there at full strength. He was expectedly rusty and tentative (2-for-7 from the field, 1-for-5 3-pointers), but he was able to get to the free-throw line and finish with 10 points, three rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes. Here’s his first bucket, in case you missed it:
2. Markelle Fultz made a jumper
Sound the NBA Twitter siren. Yes, Markelle Fultz (or Mark L. Fultz as my colleague James Herbert likes to call him), made a jump shot on Friday night. Fultz’s bizarre shooting form that was either the cause of or result of a shoulder injury, depending on who you ask, was a hot topic in NBA circles this summer. Everyone was waiting to see how his form would look this year, and …
Not bad. Not bad at all. The form still looks a bit funky, but the important thing is that he shot it with confidence — a tough thing for a 20-year-old to do after the type of scrutiny he’s endured over the past year. Fultz started alongside Ben Simmons in the place of J.J. Redick, a somewhat surprising and intriguing development, and showed the athleticism and playmaking ability that caused the Sixers to draft him first overall last year. He finished with 14 points, four assists, two steals and two blocks — one of which made the early-season highlight reel.
3. Ben Simmons is still really creative
What was Simmons thinking on this play? No idea. Do we care? Not in the least. The 6-10 point guard produced one of the most unique assists you’ll ever see by throwing the ball off the backboard to himself, then delivering a beautiful touch pass to Fultz for the lay-in.
It looks like Simmons was originally thinking about dunking it himself, but changed course when the defender came his way. Whatever it was, we’re sure glad it happened. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year finished with eight points, eight rebounds and 14 assists in 26 minutes against a team from the city where he was born.
4. Whoa, Tony Parker is on the Hornets
Parker checked into an NBA game without a Spurs jersey for the first time in his career, and it was … super weird.
Parker reportedly joined the Hornets so he could have a bigger role, and he showed some trademark bursts of speed and court vision on Friday. But still, we’re going to have to get used to that teal.
5. Joel Embiid is still a monster
Poor Melbourne United. They had absolutely nothing to contend with Embiid, who looks to be in tremendous shape entering his fifth NBA season (only his third on the court). He displayed his full complement of skills on Friday, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
6. Miles Bridges announced his presence
Well, this is one way to get your name out there.
The rookie scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds in 23 minutes, and even threw down another putback slam for good measure.
7. LeBron is a true basketball nerd
If you found yourself glued to the couch with a bag of potato chips watching preseason basketball on a Friday night, don’t apologize for your behavior. The best basketball player in the world was doing the same thing — well, probably without the potato chips … and possibly from his in-house hyperbaric chamber.
8. New Brad Stevens GIF!
It really is the GIF that keeps on giving (I’m sorry). The man is just a walking meme.
9. It was raining 3s (attempts, at least)
Last season the Celtics averaged 30.4 3-point attempts per game. They shot 27 in the first half alone on Friday. They ended up taking 47 shots from long range (unfortunately for the Celtics, they only made nine, a whopping 19 percent). The Hornets, who averaged 27 3-point attempts per game last season, shot 36 on Friday. A sign of the new run-and-gun NBA or just a bunch of guys chucking it in their first game of the season? Only time will tell.
10. The Celtics are scary
They’re quick, scrappy, tenacious defensively and nearly impossible to guard with five legitimate shooters on the floor. They haven’t gotten to play with each other much due to Hayward’s injury, but the potential of this lineup is off the charts.