The Sixers were looking to win back-to-back at home as the Cleveland Cavaliers came to town. It was announced not long before the game that Ben Simmons would play in Tuesday night’s game.
Simmons had sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder and was expected to miss three games. Three games turned into two and Simmons’ return was welcome as Al Horford took the night off for scheduled rest.
The Sixers’ offensive scheme from the beginning of the game seemed off. Joel Embiid tried a transition three in the first shot of the game, a shot he can hit but not usually how you establish the flow of an offense. The Sixers quickly fell into a hole as the Cavs were scoring efficiently and making shots they have no business making. Tristan Thompson, for instance, hit a three-point, the second of his nine-year career.
At the same time, the Sixers struggled to find consistency on offense especially from three. They were able to find plenty of open shots but just couldn’t get any to fall.
An injection of energy from the bench brought change though as the Sixers were able to control the pace and Sixers quickly went on a run of their own. Matisse Thybulle had an appearance in the first quarter and quickly made a difference defensively.
Picking up right where they left off defensively, the Sixers smothered the Cavs to start the quarter. Imposing their will they made sure nothing came easy for Cleveland.
The Cavs began to creep back into the game but after a Joel Embiid step-back three, the Sixers went on another run to regain control. For every Sixer’s run though, the Cavs seemed to have an answer to get right back in the game.
Matisse Thybulle was leaving his imprint all over the game defensively. Blocking shots, key steals, eye-popping hustle plays, Thybulle had himself a night. At the end of the half, it was the Sixers up six.
The third quarter was a bit of a mess, neither team looked exactly polished on offense and there were plenty of unforced turnovers. Furkan Korkmaz did strike lightning in a bottle though and scored eight straight points.
The Sixers really struggled to shoot the ball effectively especially from three, Tobias Harris in particular just could not find a rhythm. After three-quarters Harris and shot and missed nine three-pointers. Richardson didn’t fare much better as he missed his first five three-pointers.
Finally, Richardson hit a three in the final moments to put the Sixers up four where they finished the quarter.
The Sixers started the fourth quarter in a horrible funk, they gave up nine points in two minutes and couldn’t buy a bucket. Brett Brown called a timeout and after, the Sixers looked refreshed.
After a Richardson turnover, Embiid fouled Kevin Porter JR in what was foolishly deemed a flagrant foul. Guilty or not Embiid has had far too many for comfort this season and its something to watch as the season progresses.
The Cavs stormed past the Sixers and held a five-point lead midway through the quarter and it seemed that every time the Sixers came back the Cavs would counter.
Two minutes to go and the Sixers comeback had begun. Lockdown defense forced the Cavaliers into multiple turnovers giving the Sixers the opportunity they needed. Down one point in the waning seconds, the Sixers forced a jump ball off a Joel Embiid miss. After winning the tipoff Brett Brown called a timeout to call what looked like the final play of the game.
Giving the ball to Richardson out of the timeout, Richardson found Harris who found Embiid down low. Embiid with no one to stop him rose up for the powerful jam. Now all the Sixers needed was to defend one more play and the game was theirs. The Sixers allowed Kevin Love a wide-open three that he somehow missed and a scrum ensued for the ball. Time ran out though and the Sixers managed to hold on tight to this win.
Player of the game
Embiid led all players in points (27), rebounds (16), and made threes (3). His will is what won this game tonight. Crashing the boards at any chance, diving for loose balls in key moments, Embiid had no quit in his heart tonight.
Sixers Cold from Outside
The Sixers as a team were abysmal from behind the three-point line. Shooting 23.8%, it is amazing that they one this game. Against higher quality opponents, this won’t cut it.
Tobias Harris in particular just couldn’t find the bottom of the net tonight as he was 0-11 from three.
Colder than Cold
Speaking of Harris, tonight was an absolutely dreadful performance from him. He did make a clutch shot and clutch assist to Embiid, but, his game was not on tonight. Scoring eight points on 17 shots, Harris was far from effective and this is too close to the norm.
Harris is a very confusing player, he is only shooting 21.7% from three yet he’s averaging 17.3 and an above-average PER (Player Efficiency Rating. Harris continues to be effective in every other aspect but the one skill he was supposed to bring is just gone.
It’s too early to seek it out, but the idea of trading for a better fit should be in the very back of everyone’s mind.
On the horizon
The Sixers are right back on it tomorrow as they will travel down to Orlando to face former Sixers Nikola Vucevic, Markelle Fultz, and Michael Carter-Williams. This game marks Markelle Fultz’s first game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tipoff is at 7:00 PM as coverage starts at 6:30 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia. You can also listen live at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports