By: Kylan Watson
Riding a three-game losing streak the Philadelphia 76ers returned to Philly to face Dallas Mavericks squad that needed a victory to get into the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference. The Sixers did not have it throughout most of this game, but they made it rain from the three-point line to beat Dallas 116-108.
The Sixers had a sluggish start to the first half they could not make shots early on and defensively were missing their assignments as well. Dallas could not miss early on they shot 50-plus percent from the field, and it did not matter if the shot was contested or not. The possession usually ended with the ball finding the bottom of the net. The trio of Luka Doncic (24-points), Kyrie Irving (23-points), and Tim Hardaway Jr (22-points) led them they combined for 68 of Dallas’ 108-points. Dallas had a very balanced attack in the contest and the Sixers just did not have an answer for either player. Whenever they would key in on one of them the others would come alive. Their shot-making ability propelled the Mavericks to a 12-point lead and were threatening to run Philly off their home-floor.
Philly was able to stay in this contest thanks to their three-point shooting they made 17/36 three-pointers. 13 of those were made by the trio of De’Anthony Melton (five) Georges Niang (four), and Tyrese Maxey (four). When the Sixers needed a shot to be made the ball found one of them behind the arc and ready to make something happen for Philly. Melton and Niang came off the bench feeling like they needed to provide a spark for the Sixers, and they did that. Dallas had no one available who could stop them from putting a shot up and had if it was not for the two of them making enough shots from behind the arc to keep Philly alive in this game. The bench has been a weak point for Philly throughout multiple seasons, but the addition of Melton has given the Sixers a spark off the bench that has helped taken games that would be definite losses and turned them into wins. His two-way ability has been pivotal to keeping the Sixers as a top-three team in the loaded Eastern Conference and if he can bring his sniper ability from three and his stifling defense into the postseason. Philly will be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
The momentum in this game changed when the Sixers turned the heat up on the defensive end and force the Mavericks to be perfect in their offensive execution. They could not do that in this contest they would make ill-advised passes that would be picked off by a Philly defender. That allowed the Sixers to get out in the open court and attack the paint. That forced the Mavericks to clog the paint which opened Joel Embiid (25-points) to make pivotal three-pointer that tied the game and a two-pointer that put them in front. They did not look back once they took the lead and still had to play smothering defense to stop a late comeback from the Mavericks that was stopped by an Embiid block and a Harden steal to seal the deal tonight.
The Sixers will now prepare for the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. They will need to continue to keep the ball moving on offense, to take full advantage of the aggressive defensive play of the Raptors. Additionally, like they did tonight they will need to stay attached to their man and force Toronto to take tough shots and not give them easy opportunities from the field. If they do these things, they will be able to get their 51st victory of the season.