Well, this was an ugly game! The Sixers were simply outworked by the Cavaliers tonight to the tune of a 118-94 loss in the second half of a back-to-back. Here are some thoughts from each quarter.
1Q: Joel Embiid is out, so the Sixers found themselves looking for answers on who the offense would run through early on. Ben Simmons stepped up and took control; he was still pass first, but he was actively looking to get his shots up more than in the first two games. Tobias Harris was also a much quicker decision maker, instead of overthinking everything under the sun, he would catch and shoot. What a novel concept! Cleveland didn’t have anyone in particular doing the heavy lifting in the first quarter; it was more of a team effort. By the end of the quarter, the Sixers trailed the Cavaliers, 29-24.
2Q: What an ugly quarter. The Sixers are catching the Cavs in the middle of a hot shooting streak (45 percent from 3 to start the year), but they are literally doing whatever they want to the Sixers anywhere on the court. Andre Drummond is eating the Sixers’ post players alive without Embiid, forcing Dwight Howard into three fouls on his way to a first half double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). This quarter was lopsided and felt way worse than the numbers actually show, but regardless, the Sixers found themselves behind 64-50 at halftime. Tobias Harris ended the half with an impressive stat line of 15-8-4 and Ben Simmons finished with 13-5-4.
3Q: The Sixers looked to start the second half quickly in order to get back into this game, which led to several turnovers and the Cavaliers extending their lead even further. Honestly, all that can be said about this quarter is how obvious it is that the Sixers lack any semblance of an identity on either side of the ball without Joel Embiid on the floor. Andre Drummond continued to dominate down low and the Sixers defense really didn’t look interested in trying to stop him. Tobias Harris has looked solid so far tonight; despite a few blunders, he has shown quicker decision-making and a nice touch from deep. Sixers down 93-72 after three quarters and honestly it feels like more.
4Q: Time to get the young bench guys some minutes. Doc Rivers hasn’t used Matisse Thybulle much this year, but this is the perfect time to give him some run and see if he can fit in this rotation. Furkan Korkmaz took a shot to a place in the lower body that one can only imagine reallllly hurts and has to leave the game, only adding to a tough night for the shooter. Isaiah Joe and Dakota Mathias make their NBA debuts in garbage time and Terrance Ferguson makes his Sixers debut as well.
Final Score: 118-94, Sixers Loss
Just a really poor game all around for the Sixers tonight; not having Joel Embiid is no excuse for some of the mistakes made tonight. Tobias Harris played well with a 16-9-5 line, no one else really stood out. Too many turnovers and silly fouls to win this one and it was evident from the start. The Sixers are back in action on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors. Let’s hope they turn it around!