By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to get their second straight win as they played the Dallas Mavericks in a prime-time match-up. Philly used some smothering defense, strong three-point shooting, and a surging bench to destroy Dallas 111-97.
It started out good for Philly early on they were to hit three straight three-pointers to get out to a six-point lead over Dallas. The Sixers would then come back down to earth as Dallas started making the shots difficult for them. Dallas was able to retake the lead early in the second quarter. However Philly would turn up the heat defensively to smother Dallas’ shooters and effectively shut-down guard Luka Doncic. Who was held without a field goal by the end of the first quarter.
Guard/forward Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid were primarily responsible for Luka’s ineffectiveness. They would trap him when Dallas would try a pick and roll to get him an easy opportunity. He still scored 19-points, but without his penetration and playmaking. The rest of the players for Dallas were also held in check. This might have been the best defensive performance by Philly all season.
On Philly’s defensive effort, “I thought Ben set the tone, and Joel was phenomenal. For us to play defense like that was special,” said Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Embiid (23-points) and Simmons (15-points) were able to make their presence felt on both sides of the ball. Both combined for 48 of Philly’s 111-points. Both of them were able to attack the paint and when Dallas would double them they were able to find the open shooter. Thanks to their playmaking Philly hit 12 threes. This was their second straight night of being hot from beyond the arc. They also got a boost with guard Seth Curry returning tonight from a sore ankle. He scored 15-points and boosted their three-point shooting by hitting three threes. They will definitely need him to round into form as he continues recovering not only from his sore ankle, but also from an early season bout with Covid-19.
This was a wire to wire victory for Philly. Their bench also showed up for the second straight game. They were able to get a strong night from guard Shake Milton (10-points) and center Dwight Howard (14-points). Who combined for 24 of the bench’s 46-points. Everything went right for Philly tonight.
On the performance of his bench unit, “I actually thought their energy changed the game tonight,”said Rivers.
However, the one concerning part of the game was that forward Tobias Harris left early in the third quarter with a bruised knee. The Sixers will need other players to pick-up their scoring if Harris has to miss some time. With the all-star break coming up next week.
Philly will now face a tough Cleveland Cavaliers team on Saturday and will need another strong night from three and perimeter defense to beat Cleveland.