Ben Simmons has shaken off some NBA opening night jitters to lead his revamped Philadelphia 76ers to a dominant victory over Boston Celtics.
The 76ers won 107-93 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Melbourne-born Simmons was electrifying as he slashed to the basket, unleashed dunks and threw pin-point passes on his way to 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
“He is gifted physically, but now it is starting to morph in with a mentality,” 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters.
“You take that 6ft 10 (208cm) body and that athleticism and physical tank-like mentality and it is a powerful combination.”
The Celtics missed Aron Baynes, their former Australian enforcer and rim protector who they traded to the Phoenix Suns in the off-season.
The 76ers underwent a roster shake-up in the off-season.
They lost All-Star Jimmy Butler and three-point specialist JJ Redick but added veteran big man Al Horford from Boston and shooting guard Josh Richardson from Miami.
The 76ers struggled early as the Celtics led 25-20 at the end of the first quarter.
The hosts found their groove late in the first half, went on an 11-0 run into the third quarter and controlled the rest of the game.
“I think it was just the first game jitters,” Simmons said.
The 76ers missed Redick as they connected with just seven of 29 three-point attempts.
Simmons did not attempt a three-pointer despite skipping Australia’s World Cup campaign to work on his long distance shooting and other aspects of his game.
“I’m gifted,” Simmons, asked about the constant criticism about his lack of a jump shot, told reporters.
“I think I’m pretty good at what I do. There’s things I have to get better at.
“Everybody in the room knows that – it’s shooting.
Boston were led by Gordon Hayward’s 25 points while their off-season acquisition Kemba Walker missed 14 of 18 field goal attempts for 12 points.
Most of Australia’s NBA player contingent was in action across the US with Patty Mills’s San Antonio Spurs beating New York Knicks 120-111.
Mills had a tough shooting night, sinking just three of 11 field goal attempts on his way to eight points.
Matthew Dellavedova also was off target missing all four three-point attempts for five points as the Orlando Magic beat his Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85.
Dante Exum, still recovering from last season’s partially torn patellar tendon in his knee, was held out of the Utah Jazz’s 100-95 win against Oklahoma City Thunder.
Joe Ingles, fresh off his $US14 million one-year contract extension, came off the Jazz bench for seven points with coach Quin Snyder instead opting to start free-agent signing Bojan Bogdanovic.
Baynes came off the bench and had five points, including a three-pointer, in the Suns’ 124-95 shellacking of Sacramento Kings.
Thon Maker had four points in 16 minutes as Detroit Pistons beat Indiana Pacers 119-110.
Australian-born Kyrie Irving dropped 50 points in his debut for Brooklyn Nets but it was not enough as the Minnesota Timberwolves held on for a 127-126 overtime win.
A right ankle sprain kept Ryan Broekhoff out of Dallas Mavericks’ 108-100 victory over Washington Wizards.