By: Kylan Watson
An important five-game road trip started in Cleveland for the Philadelphia 76ers who are looking to solidify their playoff position as a top 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They faced a hungry Cleveland Cavaliers squad that was looking to end Philly’s hot streak and take the tie breaker over the Sixers. Philly used a fourth quarter three-point barrage to decimate the Cavs 119-109.
The Sixers started this game off hot. They made their shots early in this game and before the Cavaliers could even settle in to the game, they were down by double digits early in the first quarter. Philly used their ball movement to take full advantage of the overaggressive defensive play from the Cavs. The trio of Joel Embiid (36-points and grabbed 17-rebounds), James Harden (28-points, recorded 12-assists, and hit three three-pointers), and Tyrese Maxey (23-points and hit five three-pointers) who combined for 77 of the Sixers’ 119-points. The Cavaliers had no answers for them as they could not put up any resistance against either player. They were rising up over the outstretch arms of the Cavaliers and the shots found the bottom of the net. When the Sixers are moving the ball and making high-percentage shots they are a hard team to stop, especially if they limit the turnovers which they did not do tonight. They turned the ball over 18 times tonight and still won this game because of some clutch shot making. If the Sixers can cutdown on the turnovers and continue to keep the offense going they will be a tough out in the postseason.
Despite the hot offensive start the Cavaliers weathered the storm and in the third quarter they took the momentum back. They were able to force the Sixers into some dumb turnovers and were able to use their quickness advantage to attack the basket and hit wide-open three-pointers. They were able to put the Sixers on the defensive and take a 13-point lead in the period. With the way they were hitting shots Philly was forced to call a timeout to stop their increasing momentum. The duo of Caris LeVert (24-points) and Donovan Mitchell (21-points) led them tonight they combined for 45 of the Cavs’ 109-points. LeVert and Mitchell made the Sixers pay for giving them any room to attack the basket or get a shot up from beyond the arc. There was just nothing they could do to stop them in this period, after the timeout they put Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker on them. Their size forced them to take more difficult shots and that stopped them enough to help the Sixers retake the lead.
Philly was able to retake the lead thanks to their second unit who hit some clutch shots at the end of the third quarter to give the Sixers a one-point lead. Georges Niang and Shake Milton use this nationally televised game as a coming out party as they both were able to find their stroke from beyond the arc. There sniper abilities from the three-point line forced the defense to play up on them which open up the lane for James Harden to attack and he powered the Sixers early in the fourth quarter and kept his foot on the gas to keep Philly in the lead and then Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey closed the game out by hitting clutch shots to keep the Cavaliers down. After this game the Sixers cannot go any lower than the third seed in the Eastern Conference and with the Boston Celtics struggling as of late the two seeds are there for the taking.
The Sixers will now prepare for the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, they will need to stay attached to their man against the young and athletic Charlotte backcourt. Additionally, they will need to keep the ball moving to get high-percentage shots and maximize their offensive capabilities. The Sixers offense is at its best when the ball moves and finds the open man who usually finds the bottom of the net. If Philly can do these things, they can get their 47th victory of the season and push the win streak to seven straight.
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