Sixers win 114-94.
Playing in what they hope is their last game without Joel Embiid, the Sixers took care of business against an extremely pesky Cleveland Cavaliers team that typically gives them trouble. Shake Milton and Dwight Howard were the two main players for Philly tonight, as Milton scored a game-high 27 points and Howard recorded an 18 point/15 rebound double-double.
Here are some takeaways from the Eastern Conference matchup:
The Sixers did a great job navigating w/o Embiid.
When it was first announced that Embiid would be missing some time with a knee injury, the general consensus was that the Sixers would quickly tumble down the Eastern Conference standings. After all, Embiid was playing at an MVP level and was the main piece keeping Philly chugging along.
While the Sixers stumbled just a bit on their recent west coast trip, the truth is that the team as a whole did a pretty fantastic job dealing with Embiid’s absence. Following tonight’s win over Cleveland, the Sixers are back in first place, 0.5 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets.
With both Embiid and the recently acquired George Hill set to return over the weekend, the expectation is that Philly should be able to hang on to the #1 seed for the remainder of the season. Such a feat wouldn’t have been possible without the team’s resilient play the last three weeks.
That Seth Curry trade keeps looking better and better.
Acquired for Josh Richardson and a second-round pick, the addition of Seth Curry has been a revelation to the Sixers offense this season. His ability to space the floor has made life supremely easier for both Embiid and Simmons, and he continues to pour in points at a career-high rate.
Curry dropped 19 on 7-15 shooting tonight (5-10 from three), pulling the weight early on in the game with Simmons struggling and Harris in foul trouble.
With Richardson continuing to sputter out in Dallas, the draft night trade that Daryl Morey executed for the Charlotte-born sharpshooter is looking like one giant heist.
Shake Milton needs to remain a focal point of the bench offense.
While the addition of George Hill will undoubtedly make the Sixers bench unit better, it shouldn’t come at the cost of Shake Milton. The former second-round pick has been very good this year, putting in another vintage performance against the Cavs tonight. He shot 10-14 from the field, and his 27 points off the bench led all scorers. Milton’s ability to attack the paint and create shots for himself is right up there with some of the best on the Sixers’ roster.
In a perfect world, the pairing of Hill and Milton with the rest of the bench unit should help everyone involved thrive.
The Sixers are back in action Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 PM, and Embiid is currently expected to play.
Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire