Welcome to Run It Back! In this weekly series, we will summarize the week overall and recap each Sixers game from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).
The Sixers entered Wednesday’s contest at the Cleveland Cavaliers already on a five-game winning streak, and they were hungry for more. Despite 18 turnovers on the night and facing a 13-point deficit in the third frame, the Sixers turned the tide for yet another come-from-behind win. On Friday night, the Sixers continued on the road in Charlotte, easily cruising past the Hornets 121-82 for seven win a row. Philadelphia extended that streak to eight with a victory in the second leg of a back-to-back on Saturday night in Indiana, notching their second consecutive 20+-point victory defeating the Pacers 141-121.
It was also a big week in terms of recognition for Joel Embiid. The big man has been on quite a tear for about two straight weeks now, and it’s become impossible to ignore. Embiid was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season for the week of March 5 to March 12. He also, for the first time this season, surpassed Nikola Jokic for the top spot in both betting odds for the NBA MVP award as well for the No. 1 slot on the NBA.com KIA Race to the MVP ladder.
The 48-22 Sixers are on a eight-game win streak and are currently second in the Eastern Conference. They will tip off with the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at 7 p.m. EST at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sixers at Cleveland Cavaliers
Result: W, 118-109
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
The Sixers found themselves down 13-points in the third to the fourth-in-the-East Cavaliers, thanks in part to a sloppy evening full of self-inflicted turnovers. After head coach Doc Rivers was forced to call a timeout to stop the bleeding, the Sixers put up a 14-0 run of their own to get back in the game. For a moment in the fourth, it looked like the Sixers would have to finish this one without Embiid, who was called for his sixth foul with about four minutes left to play. Rivers successfully challenged the call and Embiid was able to remain in the game to complete a dominant two-way performance with 36 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks.
Embiid along with James Harden’s 28 points and Tyrese Maxey’s hot hand from long range combined to lead the Sixers to a 118-109 come-from-behind win and their sixth straight victory.
With this being the third and final matchup between these two teams, the Sixers will hold the tiebreaker over the Cavaliers.
Sixers at Charlotte Hornets
Result: W, 121-82
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
Make that seven in a row!
This one was really only close in the first frame, where Charlotte’s Terry Rozier 10-point period helped the hosting Hornets stay within a few points of Embiid, Maxey and the Sixers. From there, the Sixers pulled away, cruising to a 12-point lead by halftime courtesy of the dominant pick-and-roll connection between Harden and Embiid. Charlotte missed their first six shots of the second half, allowing the Sixers to capitalize and grow their lead to over 20.
The extended lead allowed for some garbage time minutes for the likes of Danuel House Jr. and Paul Reed. Reed was particularly impressive with his time, scoring eight points, pulling in 10 rebounds and putting up three blocks. This also allowed Embiid to rest for the entirety of the fourth — he still put up a massive 38 points in just three frames. Harden followed alongside the big man to lead the Sixers with his fifth triple-double of the season as the visitors cruised to a 121-82 victory.
Quick shoutout: this was a decent game for Tobias Harris, who has struggled mightily as of late. Harris hit 7-of-11 from the field for 18 points and was a +12 overall. It would be a huge boost to the already stampeding Sixers if Harris could get a bit more consistent as playoffs come rolling around.
Sixers at Indiana Pacers
Result: W, 141-121
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
Sixers took to Indiana for the second leg of a back-to-back in search of their eighth-straight win and walked away with their second-consecutive 20+-point victory.
It’s absolutely insane that the phrase “Sixers win, Embiid dominates” has become so redundant in the past few weeks, but it’s with good reason. Embiid posted his ninth-straight 30+-point game on Saturday night (a franchise record) and again was able to rest for the entirety of the fourth period. He was backed up by Tyrese Maxey who shot a stellar 81.8 percent for 22 points in the first half and finished with 31 points.
Some other things of note from this one: De’Anthony Melton got off to a hot start for the Sixers with six points, an assist and three steals in the opening frame alone. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, six steals and one block. Also, Jalen McDaniels returned to the lineup after missing a few games with a hip injury, and Dewayne Dedmon got his first non-garbage time minutes in a Sixers jersey. He netted two points, one foul, one rebound, and threw one horrendous lob in 2:49 of action.
The Sixers have now plowed through eight straight wins. This week was arguably the easiest stretch of the rest of Philadelphia’s grueling schedule, but it’s encouraging to see the team get the job done when given opportunities against weaker teams.
Next, the Sixers return home to host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.