Doncic Dominates as Sixers Lose Second Straight

NBA: APR 09 76ers at Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a play against New Orleans Pelicans during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)

While trade rumors have taken the headlines in recent days, the Sixers continue to power through their season on the court. In a late-night matchup down in Texas, the Sixers faced off against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs came into the game sitting at 5th place in the West with a record of 29-23 and were expected to put up a fight in this matchup.

First Half

The game was put to a delay just 6 minutes into the first quarter when it was discovered that the rim the Mavs were shooting on was crooked. Despite this, the Mavs shot 6-12 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the three-point arc on the crooked rim. It took an entire new basket needing to be rolled out and a 44-minute process for the game to be able to resume.

After the unreasonable amount of time spent fixing the net, the Sixers were able to jump out to a first-quarter lead. Led by 9 points and 9 rebounds from Joel Embiid, the Sixers led 33-24 to end the first quarter. The even rim did not help the Mavs as they shot 1-12 from the field to end the quarter.

Tyrese Maxey got hot to start the second period cruising to 8 points on 3-5 from the field. Joel Embiid was able to come back in and take it home, ending with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists in the first half. The Sixers maintained a 63-53 lead at halftime, with the Mavericks struggling to cut into the deficit.

Second Half

This trend changed in the second half as the Sixers were cold out of the gates allowing the Mavs to hop out to a 14-5 lead. The Sixers looked sloppy throughout most of the third quarter. Both teams mixed in some zone defense which was problematic for the Sixers on both ends. The Mavs took control of the game and went into the fourth quarter leading 85-78.

Doc Rivers rolled out a lineup of Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Danny Green, Georges Niang, and Andre Drummond to begin the fourth quarter, and the Sixers were able to cut the lead while Luka Doncic remained on the bench. The Sixers went on an 11-0 run to start the fourth and took back the lead with the second unit.

It took until 6:05 left in the fourth quarter for Joel Embiid to sub back in, with the Mavs leading 93-91 at this point. Things went south for the Sixers at this point, with the Mavs capitalizing on some sloppy turnovers and poor rebounding efforts. Disappointing execution down the stretch resulted in the Sixers falling 107-98.

In a play that was a good representation of the game, Seth Curry forced a contested three-pointer which was off the mark. Despite arguably the most impressive defensive possession of the season, Jalen Brunson was able to secure an offensive rebound and give the Mavs another possession. Luka Doncic ended up knocking down a floater and converting on a three-point play, and the score shifted from 96-100 to 96-103.

The Mavericks cruised home from here and handed the Sixers a 107-98 loss.

Overall Thoughts

This was a bad loss for the Sixers. Despite holding momentum for the entirety of the first half, the Sixers went ice cold to end the game. The Mavs dominated with a zone defense and successfully picked apart the Sixers’ unathletic version of a zone on the opposite end. The Sixers scored just 35 points in the second half and allowed 11 offensive rebounds. Poor execution on both sides cost the Sixers the game, and it was one that should leave a sour taste in the mouths of the team.

In a somewhat surprising move, Doc Rivers elected to play Isaiah Joe in the minutes that typically go to Danny Green in the first half. The second-year sniper is coming off back-to-back 10+ scoring performances and has a style of play that the Sixers are greatly in need of. Unfortunately, Joe struggled off the start and tallied 0 points and 4 fouls in 9 first-half minutes. Green took his normal minutes back in the second half and ended with 25 minutes played.

This game proved more of what was already known. The Sixers are a good team but have some legitimate matchup concerns and clear holes in their current roster. The roster’s lack of athletism was put on display and caused Joel Embiid to put a much larger concentration on the defensive side of the ball. He ended with 3 blocks and 2 steals, as well as several other impactful contents around the rim.

It was a disappointing loss but not one the Sixers can rest on as they have a tough stretch ahead. Their next matchup will be with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at 3:30 before facing the NBA-best Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.