Despite the best efforts of star-in-the-making Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers couldn’t pull out back-to-back wins.
Led by superstar Damian Lillard and great three-point shooting, the Blazers had too much firepower, beating the Sixers 118-111 at Moda Center Saturday night. The loss drops the Sixers to 1-3 on their six-game road trip and 9-8 overall.
Matisse Thybulle returned after a seven-game absence because of the league’s healthy and protocols — and his defense was much needed. Joel Embiid (health and safety protocols), Danny Green (left hamstring tightness) and Ben Simmons (personal reasons) remain out.
Here are a few thoughts from the loss.
- An aggressive Tobias Harris got the Sixers’ offense rolling. He took advantage of Portland’s lack of size on the perimeter and lack of rim protection. He used his quick first step and strength to get to the rim and finish. He had eight first-quarter points before Larry Nance Jr. came into the game.
- The Blazers seemed intent on taking advantage of the Sixers’ big starting lineup. Georges Niang was up to the challenge, stifling Norman Powell on a couple drives. Andre Drummond struggled on a couple early pick-and-rolls, but seemed to settle in.
- Damian Lillard is good. He had 12 of Portland’s 30 first-quarter points.
- It didn’t take Charles Bassey long to come in and get his first block, continuing where he left off the other night. He also hit a really nice floater on a roll.
- Matisse Thybulle got some early run. He picked up two early fouls, but seemed to be moving well. He had a couple vintage Thybulle defensive possessions against CJ McCollum.
- Tyrese Maxey had taken just three shots nearly midway through the second. The Blazers don’t have a single perimeter defender that can keep up with him. Sixers need him to stop deferring and start trying to take the game over. Portland suddenly up nine as McCollum going going.
- The Sixers have looked a little unorganized in the first half. Weird plays with guys running into each other and defensive lapses. Outside of Harris, nobody looked particularly sharp.
- Doc Rivers picked up a technical and for good reason. Dame karate-chopped Harris across both arms and there was no call. Harris was rightfully incensed and his coach stood up for him. Doc continued to give the official the business during a timeout. 45-34, Blazers.
- Lillard and McCollum combined for 35 of Portland’s 55 points.
- It was a somewhat lethargic first half, but the Sixers’ struggles from three might’ve been their biggest issue. They went just 3 of 15 from deep in the first half. The Sixers found themselves down 55-46 at the half. A few more hits more beyond the arc in the second half could make this a game. Harris with 12 points, but three turnovers. Maxey had seven points and four assists.
- Three pointers continued to be a major factor. Portland hit 4 of its first 6 threes to start the third. The Sixers hit 1 of 3 in that span. They played better coming out of the locker room, but trading twos for threes is not a winning strategy.
- The Blazers’ defense is somewhat improved, but the Sixers made them look like the best defensive team in the league at times. Just too many empty possessions and 1-on-1 play. Pair that with Portland’s ridiculous shooting, and the lead was as large as 18 at one point in the third.
- With Lillard on the bench and Thybulle in the game guarding McCollum, the Sixers were at least able to slow the Blazers down a bit and cut into the lead. It was actually still a winnable game heading into the fourth with Portland holding an 86-78 advantage. Thybulle with great defense on a very late possession against Lillard.
- Niang with back-to-back drives and the Sixers got to within four. Niang up to 15 points. He’s one of the few Sixers that was good throughout the night.
- There has to be some concern with Furkan Korkmaz right now. He came into this game shooting 22.2 percent over his last five. He was 0 of 4 and just doesn’t look like himself. Is it the wrist? Is he just playing too many minutes?
- Maxey just looks awesome. This was one of his better pure point guard games, but it almost felt like he sensed the Sixers needed him to be a little more assertive late in this game. Sixers just not going away.
- Sixers got the game to within two on a Harris layup midway through the fourth, but then just crumbled. Empty offensive possessions and defensive lapses led to an 8-0 Portland run.
- Man, Maxey really tried to will the Sixers to a win. He was awesome in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his 28 points. It just wasn’t enough to combat the Blazers’ firepower. Dame was Dame, finishing with 37 points and seven assists. Harris also added 28 points and eight rebounds.