The Philadelphia 76ers were able to overcome 21 minutes of terrible basketball to open their previous game against the Atlanta Hawks. While the Sixers’ first-half woes continued in their matchup tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they failed to climb out of the abysmal hole they dug for themselves in this one.
While the 44 points they allowed the Cavs to drop on their heads in the second quarter was ultimately their undoing, in the end, it seemed like their offense without James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey was their greatest pitfall. Cleveland broke the game open in the second period behind a barrage of hot shooting from behind the arc and continued that elite-level marksmanship throughout the rest of the game.
Philly did their best to try to chip away at the lead in the second half — stringing together consecutive stops while the Cavs graciously started missing some open looks from deep — but their offense was simply too inconsistent to return the game to within striking distance.
Even with Cleveland hitting 15 triples at a nearly 52 percent clip, the Sixers still only allowed 113 points in total. That’s a manageable score to try to topple had their offense been operating at full strength.
Unfortunately for Philly, both Shake Milton and Tobias Harris’s plays came back down to Earth in Cleveland. Shake finished with just 14 points on 12 shots, and Tobi had one of the worst games of his career, totaling just three points and missing all seven of his field goal attempts.
Joel Embiid looked more like the player that came out of the gates to a plodding start in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks than the dominant force inside that he became to put them away. He put up just 19 points on 6-16 shooting.
There won’t be many games where the Sixers shoot just 23 percent from 3-point land while allowing their opponent to stroke over half of their attempts. That being said, Philadelphia is still very clearly a team without a set identity, and they’ll need to find one fast, as they sit just 12-10 over a quarter of the way into the season.
The good news for the Sixers is they’re entering a soft spot in their schedule, which should allow some time for them to find the chemistry and rigid philosophies they’ve been missing so far. After a bout with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, November 2, they’ll play the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Charlotte Hornets. The even better news is that James Harden is hopeful of returning as the Sixers head to his old stomping grounds against the Rockets.