76ers survive in Cleveland, Joel Embiid dominates in birthday celebration
After a string of questionable performances, the Philadelphia 76ers were able to bounce back on the road last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning 118-114.
The Sixers heavily relied on their stars, the quadrant of Joel Embiid (35), James Harden (21), Tyrese Maxey (25) Tobias Harris (19) combined for 100 of the teams 118 total points.
The Birthday Boy
Embiid notched his 23rd game with 30+ points and 10+ rebounds, matching the most games of that nature in the league. On his 28th birthday, he came out firing, pulling in a double double in the first half and taking full advantage of Jarrett Allen’s absence.
The 76ers looked to Embiid nearly every possession down the stretch and he came through with several clutch buckets in crunch time. Embiid was unbelievably efficient, making 68.4% of his shots from the field and making 8/10 free throws.
Another great performance from our MVP, but it wasn’t good enough for him as he mentioned that the team has “a lot to work on” going forward.
Tyrese Maxey found his rhythm again in this game with aggressive attacks on the rim and quality perimeter shooting while also holding his own against Darius Garland defensively.
Maxey took care of business and gracefully added a significant boost in times of offensive struggle, capping off his night with a dagger from beyond the arc.
After having a few down games over the last week it was great to see him find his confidence again.
James Harden has still yet to regain his full scoring swagger, his jumpers have looked slightly off (1/6 3pt FG) and things have appeared out of sync at times during this stretch. Regardless of these restraints, he was still extremely impactful at the point guard spot.
Harden dropped 21 points while dishing out 11 assists, and with the increased on court chemistry these numbers are subject to change as this team starts understanding each other.
Tobias Harris has nestled into a solid role recently, and as the fourth option he has been doing a very good job at capitalizing on his opportunities while cutting down on the bad plays.
Harris was extremely efficient, shooting 8/13 from the field and 3/6 from deep. His defensive effort has been noticeable, and his willingness to adapt is commendable.
Bench Struggles Continue
The 76ers’ bench unit was outscored 41-13 in this game, making it the third straight game where the reserves were blown out by their counterparts. Denver’s bench outscored Philadelphia 48-14, and Orlando bested them by a 51-19 margin.
What was once seen as a strength of the Sixers earlier in the season has become their biggest, most glaring weakness.
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A 15+ point lead seems to be Philadelphia’s kryptonite. The 76ers enjoyed a brief 19 point in this game before naturally handing it back to Cleveland at the start of the second half. The Cavaliers outscored the Sixers 31-13 in the third quarter and ended that quarter on a 22-6 run.
The inability to hold leads has plagued the Sixers over the last two years, and it has been at the forefront of their issues this season. While Doc Rivers doesn’t seem too concerned as long as it’s not happening in April, this is a significant problem that is unfortunately embedded in this team.
The Sixers head back home to host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. This will be the final matchup between these two teams for the season with Dallas looking to complete their season sweep of the Sixers.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS