Sixers surge late to snap their losing streak against the Mavs

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, goes up for a shot against Dallas Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After missing several games together, Joel Embiid and James Harden had to shake off some rust. The Sixers’ game plan never changed though. Philly fed Embiid almost every possession early on. Execution was sloppy as they turned the ball over on several possessions.

Sixers struggle early in win over Mavs

Dwight Powell picked up two early fouls as Kyrie started out hot, nailing perimeter shots. Irving, who has become a villain around the league, exchanged words with a fan that seemed to motivate him even more to score. He helped the Mavericks establish a double-digit lead, showing why he’s one of the most unguardable one-on-one players in the NBA.

Luka Dončić looked more like a facilitator at the start of the game. After he hit several baskets, he went to the bench and Tim Hardaway, Jr. started warming up. He hit back-to-back baskets, causing Doc Rivers to call timeout.

Tyrese Maxey picked up two early fouls, which sent him to the bench. Jalen McDaniels and Georges Niang came in to lead the second unit. Niang made a difference, knocking down two 3-pointers. Still, the Sixers managed to struggle when Embiid went to the bench.

James Harden, who has been dealing with foot soreness, missed all four of his field goals in the first quarter. As the game progressed, his shot warmed up, and he skillfully distributed the basketball on his way to a game-high 12 assists.

Philly continued to struggle though. At one point in the second quarter, Dallas had 14 transition points while the Sixers had zero. Careless plays with the basketball led to opportunities for Dallas on the other end. A late surge at the end of the second quarter brought the Sixers to within five points going into halftime.

The Second half surge begins

The Sixers came out in the second half with an offensive burst. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, both put up shots to help take the lead. Philly forced Dallas into a handful of turnovers which caused a lead change. Kyrie Irving was quiet at the beginning of the second half, as Luka Dončić kept making a scoring impact for the Mavericks.

Eventually, Irving would make his presence felt, scoring on drives and putting pressure on the Sixers transition defense.

Paul Reed contributed on the glass and brought high energy to the reserve unit. De’Anthony Melton and Niang kept shooting from the perimeter, knocking down shots to help end the quarter. 

Tim Hardaway Jr. had the hot hand, while Dončić was on the bench, knocking down multiple triples. Irving dazzled the arena with his handles and finishes. 

The Sixers seal the deal

When Embiid re-entered in the fourth quarter, he put up back-to-back baskets, helping the Sixers take the lead and showing why he is still a top MVP candidate. Then, the Mavs fought back to stay close, but a Tyrese Maxey acrobatic layup gave the Sixers five point cushion. 

All of a sudden, the Mavs went cold. Outside of Dončić and Irving, nobody from Dallas could make an open shot. A Tobias Harris jump hook kept the Sixers lead secure. 

An Embiid clutch block on a Dončić shot attempt practically sealed the deal and the Sixers snapped their losing streak. 

As a whole, the Sixers were outplayed most of the game but surged back with solid defense and clutch baskets. Philly plays next on Friday night against the Raptors.