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Balanced Sixers fight through injuries to upset red-hot Cavs in a thriller

The Sixers, still ravaged by injuries, went into Cleveland and beat the red-hot Cavs Monday night.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The hottest team in the NBA has met their match, and it’s the #HospitalSixers apparently.

Philadelphia went up to Cleveland and ended the Cavaliers nine-game winning streak, beating them 123-121 Monday night as their entire starting five scored in double figures.

Kelly Oubre Jr. went for 24 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor. Buddy Hield had 24 as well, shooting 9-of-13 from the field along with eight assists before fouling out.

Tyrese Maxey shot 9-of-21 for 22 points and nine assists. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 36 points but was denied by Paul Reed on the last shot of the game.

Philly was once again without Tobias Harris, who was sidelined with a hip injury.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Despite both teams shooting it well in the quarter, the opening minutes of the game were a bit sloppy — Cleveland missed three bunnies while the Sixers struggled to take care of the basketball. Maxey turned the ball over three times trying to bend passes around the zone Cleveland opened the game in.
  • Leave it to Bball Paul to get the Sixers’ offense going. He had seven in the opening quarter, working the pick-and-roll with Hield and floating through the dunker spot. It feels like he’s a better roller when the ball-handler stays at the three-point line, something Hield and James Harden do more than Maxey. The Sixers ended the first shooting 10-of-12 on their two-pointers.
  • Back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s win, Mo Bamba went and had a quintessential Mo Bamba play late in the quarter. He let Caris Lavert sneak by him to steal an offensive rebound, but swallowed a Jarrett Allen layup attempt just a few moments later.
  • The Cavs’ offense got rolling once Mitchell started to get some touches. He led all scorers with nine as they shot 58% from the field as a team, but they still trailed the Sixers by one after the first.

Second Quarter

  • Maxey was the only Sixer who played in the first quarter not to score, but changed that quickly by scoring the team’s first nine points of the second. He got on the board with a couple of three-pointers before getting around old friend Georges Niang for an and-1 at the rim.
  • The Sixers ran out what had to have been their smallest lineup of the season midway through the quarter, featuring all three of Maxey, Cam Payne and Terq Smith. KJ Martin was able to take advantage of the space. He got free for a reverse layup, then crashed the glass for a put-back layup a couple possessions later. Martin shot 4-of-4 in the half before getting T’d for hanging on the rim for literally a second.
  • Including that technical foul, the Cavs were right there with an answer every time the Sixers threatened to go on a run. The Sixers took a four-point lead into the half as both teams shot well over 50% from the field.

Third Quarter

  • As the second half got underway, not much changed for the Sixers. They continued to have a ton of success at the rim. Their first 10 points of the half came in the paint thanks to a couple more snazzy finishes from Reed.
  • After falling down by nine to start the half, the Cavaliers rolled off 13-2 run to take their first lead of the game since the first. Not only did the Sixers begin to surrender offensive rebounds during this stretch, but those extra possessions turned into three-pointers for the Cavs.
  • After his best game in the NBA, things weren’t coming as easily tonight for Ricky Council IV. He missed a layup in transition when he couldn’t decide to pass to Maxey or take it up himself. A few possessions later he got stuck with a grenade behind the three-point line that he could not get to the rim.
  • It was a shame Hield had to sit for the end of the third with four fouls, because the Sixers’ offense really opened up with him on the floor. He was 6-of-8 from the floor through three. Payne and Maxey had a much harder time navigating the paint with him on the bench. The Cavs re-took a one-point lead right before the quarter expired.

Fourth Quarter

  • Even in his better games recently, Oubre hasn’t shot the ball very well from the field. His only success inside the arc was when he’s been able to get to the free throw line. That wasn’t the case tonight, as he buoyed the Sixers with a ton of fadeaways on the baseline.
  • Some really good stuff from Hield off the bounce midway through the quarter. First he drew the attention of Allen to get Bamba open in the dunker spot for his eighth assist of the night. Then he spun around Lavert to hit a floater off the glass. He kept things going after a Cleveland timeout, knocking down two pull-up threes above the break.
  • After his second quarter burst, Maxey really didn’t shoot the ball very well in this one, but he did hit some tough jumpers to put the game away. It’s a good sign to see him go to the midrange to do so, adding that to his game is the next leap he can take.
  • The Cavaliers did hang around until the last possible second. After throwing a ball out of bounds, Hield fouled Mitchell for an and-1, which was also his sixth of the game. Cleveland went on a 9-0 in the last minute of the game. Maxey went 1-of-2 from the line with seven seconds left, giving the Cavs the last possession down two. Reed denied Mitchell on a drive attempt to seal the win.
  • The Sixers return home for one more contest before the break. They’ll welcome the Miami Heat to town for a matchup on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.

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