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Sixers escape Cleveland with a win over Cavs

Joel Embiid was dominant on his birthday, but the Sixers had to hang on for dear life for the road win.

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Sixers bounced back Wednesday night with a hard-fought 118-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers blew a 17-point lead, but were able to hang on as Joel Embiid had 35 on 74.8 percent true shooting on his birthday, along with 17 rebounds and five assists. Tyrese Maxey gave Cleveland problems again, going for 23 on 72.4 percent true shooting, and came up with an unbelievable rebound with 6.6 seconds remaining to ice the game and bail out Tobias Harris. Here are some thoughts and observations from Wednesday’s win.

First Half

  • Embiid certainly came ready to play on his birthday. The big fella had another scorching start, shooting 6-7 from the field for 13 in the first quarter, while also holding the Cavs to 38 percent shooting. Embiid’s midrange jumper was falling from the opening tip, allowing the Sixers to quickly take a double-digit lead.
  • A stellar job by Harden, Maxey, and Harris during Embiid’s long stretch on the bench. Harris put up threes quickly or attacked downhill, a very encouraging sign. Maxey had a couple finishes at the rim that were downright silly, while Harden attacked the free throw line. All three starters joined Embiid in double-digit scoring before the half ended.
  • If DeAndre Jordan can’t finish lobs then what value can he possibly add to a team?
  • Speaking of silly, Joel Embiid man.
  • Unlike Monday’s game, the Sixers were able to maintain momentum heading into halftime. Like Denver, Cleveland was making a run with two minutes left in the half, but credit to the Sixers for making enough shots to keep the lead at 13 heading into the half, and credit to Tobais Harris for just getting the three off before the buzzer.

Second Half

  • Cleveland was able to capture that momentum in the third, starting the half on a 9-2 run, bringing them right back in the game. Despite Embiid’s best efforts, the Sixers shot just 26 percent in the third as the Cavs shot 55 percent. Cleveland caught up with just under two minutes left in the third and took a five-point lead into the fourth.
  • The Sixers were just a complete mess in the third, starting and ending the quarter with field goal droughts lasting at least 3:30.
  • A great job by Matisse Thybulle to start the fourth on Darius Garland. This was a crucial stretch that saw the Sixers hold the Cavs at 95 until Embiid checked back into the game.
  • Just an absolutely gutsy effort by Embiid and Maxey to finish off the Cavs. The two were virtually Philly’s only source of offense down the stretch, scoring 16 of the Sixers’ last 23 points. Something about the Cavaliers gets Maxey going, it appears.
  • With that win, the Sixers road record improved to 23-11, one of the three best in the entire NBA. It is utterly perplexing how the Sixers turned from one of the worst away teams ever into road warriors in two years.

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