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Sixers make it interesting but win 4th straight vs. Cavs heading into All-Star break

The ending was a little too close for comfort, but the Sixers won their fourth straight against the upstart Cavs Wednesday.

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

In a pivotal standings matchup, the Sixers picked up another win in their last game before the All-Star break, knocking off the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-112. Joel Embiid dropped 29 points and 14 rebounds as the Sixers narrowly avoided blowing a 28-point lead.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Joel Embiid has become the fastest Sixer to reach 10,000 career points. They said he’d never play an NBA minute.
  • Thanks to a scorching start from James Harden, it took the Sixers less than half a quarter to build a double-digit lead. Philly made their first six three-point attempts of the game and shot 57 percent from the field in the opening quarter. What was most impressive early was how Harden navigated the lengthy Cavalier defenders.

Eight of Harden’s 12 assists came in the first.

  • Cleveland’s offense seemed out of sync from the jump, which helped the Sixers get out to such a big lead early. Four early turnovers allowed the Sixers to get plenty of looks in transition, as they held a 14-point lead after one.

Second Quarter

  • Despite the Sixers having Dewayne Dedmon available, Paul Reed was still given the first crack at backup center. Reed had a solid shift, highlighted by two blocks and a put-back dunk.
  • The Sixers have an actual lob threat in Jalen McDaniels. Tyrese Maxey has looked for him on an alley-oop in every game they’ve played together so far.
  • The Cavs’ offense was sloppy in the first, but at least they were making shots, shooting 50 percent from the field, but they were downright in dreadful in the second. They shot 4 of 19 in the quarter, going scoreless for about four minutes until Danny Green ended that stretch just before the half. The Sixers took a 25-point lead into the break.

Third Quarter

  • With how well the Sixers shot the ball, there just wasn’t that much for Embiid to on the offensive end of the floor in the first half. Philly opened the second half with Embiid attacking the rim very aggressively.
  • You know it’s a good offensive night when all five Sixers starters record double digit points, as that starting five includes P.J. Tucker. Tucker was great on both ends tonight as he scored double digits for just the third time this season. It was Tucker who Donovan Mitchell hunted on switches, but Tucker was more than up for the task.
  • What started out as another solid offensive quarter stalled out. Philly turned the ball over six times in the third and only made four field goals in the last seven minutes, as they took a 17-point lead into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • Cleveland’s run continued as the Sixers opened the final quarter averaging about a turnover per minute. This coincided with Donovan Mitchell heating up, who scored 25 of his 33 in the second half.
  • With just over four minutes left, a 28-point lead was cut to single digits. Another big reason the Cavs made their way back in this game was that the Sixers could not stop fouling, Cleveland took 12 trips the free throw line in the fourth.
  • The Sixers really avoided a horrific meltdown thanks to Evan Mobley missing a bunny. The Cavs’ momentum continued to mount until the lead was down to four, when Mobley missed a pretty good look at point blank range. Philly was able to pull it out from there as the Cavs fouled them the rest of the way.
  • Should it come down to it, the Sixers next matchup against the Cavs in Cleveland on March 15 will be the tiebreaker.
  • The Sixers first matchup out of the All-Star break will come at home against the Memphis Grizzlies next Thursday at 7:30 pm on TNT.

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