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Embiid posts triple-double in another MVP-caliber performance in win vs. Cavs

Joel Embiid was a monster as the Sixers took down one of the East’s best teams in the Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Sixers are 2-0 in the James Harden era and the guy hasn’t even played a game yet.

As the Sixers wait for their former MVP teammate to join them, their current MVP favorite was dominant yet again in a 103-93 win over the Cavaliers at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday. The win improves the Sixers to 34-22 on the season. They’ll welcome the Celtics Tuesday. We’ll see if that will be Harden’s Sixers debut.

Harden and Paul Millsap are not with the team just yet, though Millsap was in the building watching the game. The Beard did arrive in Philly, reuniting with Daryl Morey.

Yes, the trade really happened and, yes, Harden is here. We didn’t dream any of it.

Here are a few takeaways from Saturday night’s game.

First quarter

  • An outstanding start from Matisse Thybulle. He harassed All-Star Darius Garland from the jump, collecting a steal on the Cavs’ first possession. Thybulle also got two easy buckets from cuts off Joel Embiid double teams.
  • Speaking of Embiid, he seemed to be favoring his wrist after missing a fadeaway early. So much for that. Embiid went on to have a monster first quarter. Jarrett Allen is having a phenomenal season, but is still no match for Embiid. Nor were Cleveland’s double teams.
  • Garland did get loose for a couple buckets when Caris LeVert checked in. Thybulle then took on the newest Cav while Tyrese Maxey took over on Garland. The Vanderbilt product is just silky smooth.
  • The battle of Turkish wings was a stalemate early, with both Cedi Osman and Furkan Korkmaz scoring two points apiece.
  • Maxey got going with a pretty finish in transition and then a midrange jumper off an Embiid screen to cap off an 11-0 Sixers’ run.
  • Good to see Shake Milton get going with a couple of nice drives and finishes in his second game back.
  • Monster first quarter for Embiid who was on triple-double watch after one with 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. Thybulle with six points and a pair of steals as the Sixers went into the second with a 36-23 lead.

Second quarter

  • Paul Reed is off to a nice start. He had a crafty finish off a Shake drive and a nice drive of his own with the shot clock winding down. He also had two offensive rebounds. This is the way Bball Paul has to play if he’d like to play himself into backup five consideration.
  • Strong run here by Cleveland. Osman getting going a bit and he’s up to 11 points. LeVert also with a nice spark off the bench with six points. The Cavs cut the lead to 40-36.
  • And now Garland can’t miss. Such an impressive offensive bag from the third-year guard. He cut the lead to 46-43 with a transition three late in third. Garland up to 16 points.
  • Oh my god, Embiid just tried to end Allen. Forgive my language, but holy shit.
  • The shooting evened out after a blistering start from the Sixers. Cleveland won the second 28-22, but a strong finish to the half allowed the Sixers to take a 58-51 lead into the locker room. Embiid was otherworldly with 24 points, six assists, five rebounds and an attempted murder. Maxey with 10. Garland keep the Cavs in it with 20, though he had yet record a single assist. He came into the game averaging 8.1 a night.

Third quarter

  • Sixers just really reckless with the basketball early here with two completely unforced turnovers. And Garland picked up where he left, getting the Cavs within one at 60-59.
  • Four turnovers now to start the third and Cleveland is up 65-64. Just sloppy from the Sixers.
  • The Sixers really stepping up the effort on the defensive end. Strong rotations and help. The Cavs went over four minutes without a field goal and the Sixers took a 71-65 lead.
  • A Maxey three off an Embiid screen and a pair of free throws from the big man from a coast-to-coast drive put the Sixers back up 12 at 78-67. Embiid’s defense ticked up a notch here in the third.
  • Another strong drive from Milton to close the quarter and extend the Sixers’ halftime lead from seven to nine at 80-71. They held Cleveland to just 20 points in the quarter. Embiid up to 28 points, 11 rebound, nine assists, and three steals.

Fourth quarter

  • Bball Paul redemption! Looks like Reed and Milton might have a little chemistry here. Another strong stint from Reed and the Sixers lead is extended to 84-71.
  • Great run here from the reserves-plus Tobi. The addition of Milton as an actual ball-hander helps immensely. Furkan Korkmaz having a solid third with less ball-handling responsibility. The Sixers held an 89-78 advantage with most of the starters checking back in midway through the quarter.
  • Joel Embiid is the MVP of this league. He hit a beautiful fadeaway against a double team then blocked LeVert on the other end then hit a trail three on the ensuing break. He’s up to 33 points and the Sixers took an 94-82 lead.
  • A few possessions later, Thybulle forced a loose ball on Garland which landed in Embiid’s hands. The big man then found Harris for his 10th assist and the fourth triple-double of his career and second of the season.
  • You have to wonder if the trade chatter did get to Thybulle a little. He certainly wasn’t playing poorly, but he’s been exceptional the last two nights.
  • Embiid is the first Sixer to post 40-10-10 since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Like what can you even say at this point?
  • Just a hell of a win. Embiid finishes with 40 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and he killed a guy. Garland had just seven points in the second half, in large part thanks to Thybulle who finished with a career-high six steals. This team is about to add a former MVP to the mix. Scary hours.