Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Vonleh, Simmons, Irving

The Sixers lost to the Celtics in their opener but they see a long playoff run in their future, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. They believe they have more talent around superstar Joel Embiid than ever before, due to the front office’s moves this offseason.

“There’s no weak links around the horn,” said P.J. Tucker, the Sixers’ top free agent acquisition. “You want to [pick on] somebody? Go ahead. We got everybody.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Due to Robert Williams‘ knee issues, Noah Vonleh has become a key member of the Celtics‘ frontcourt for the time being. As Jay King of The Athletic notes, Vonleh is just six months removed from a stint in China. The opportunity to play in the NBA again has made Vonleh more appreciative of his current status. “It made me even hungrier,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a pretty good work ethic, but being out of there I was just wondering why and questioning certain things. But it just made me more motivated and made me work a lot harder.” Vonleh has a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract with Boston.
  • The stat line for Ben Simmons in his return to action after a season off was unimpressive. He posted four points, five rebounds and five assists before fouling out in 23 minutes. Nets head coach Steve Nash attributes that performance to the long layoff, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. “I just think he’s rusty. The guy hasn’t played in over a year,” Nash said. “He’s still getting used to referees, defense, offense. This is a process for Ben … He’s shown obviously glimpses of the player we know he is and can be, but it’s not easy. We’re here to support him.”
  • Kevin Durant‘s trade request during the summer turned out to be a test and Kyrie Irving believes the Nets are better for it, he told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. “When Kev made that request, I feel like we got better,” Irving said. “Afterwards. Not initially, but now where we are now, I feel like we can honestly say we got better, with the principles that are needed for success. Without going through some test in the summertime or during the season, we wouldn’t be able to be as close and bonded as we are now.”
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