Sixers knock off red-hot Cavs as Maxey, Hield, and Oubre combine for 70

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Buddy Hield (17) shoots in front of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Off the heels of their narrow victory over the Washington Wizards, Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Cleveland to face off against the hottest team in the NBA, the Cavaliers. The Sixers, once again without four of their five starters, would have the thought task of facing a Cavs team that had won 17 of their last 18, including their last nine in a row at home.

When last these two teams met, the Sixers were at near-full strength, and even still found themselves coming up short. What, or rather who, the Sixers didn’t have then, however, made all the difference in this game.

Philadelphia loves some Buddy Ball

In the three games since arriving in Philadelphia, Buddy Hield has averaged 22.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from beyond the arc. Known as a knock-down shooter since before his debut in the league, Hield has surpassed expectations in many other areas of his game during his brief Sixers career.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Buddy Hield warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

His facilitation ability has seemingly taken a significant step forward, thanks in large part to the freedom Hield has enjoyed in Nick Nurse’s offense. Philadelphia’s need for additional ball-handling was clear heading into the deadline, and the team addressed those needs with the additions of Cam Payne and Kyle Lowry on the buyout market.

What many did not expect, however, is that the acquisition of Buddy Hield has seemingly addressed that very same need despite it not being the primary reason he was brought to Philadelphia.

His ability to take threes, whether they’re contested shots, relocation triples, or what have you, was a known commodity that the Sixers were in dire need of. But his ability to run the offense alongside Tyrese Maxey and Cam Payne has been invaluable early on.

Safe to say, the Buddy Hield experience has started off with a bang, and the city of Philadelphia is loving it.

C4 and K9 continue to make an impact

Off and on, Kelly Oubre, also known as K9, has proven to be one of the most electric members of this Sixers team. Monday night against the Cavaliers, Oubre was locked in, refusing to be slowed down by one of the NBA’s top defensive units.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, left, and forward Isaac Okoro (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Finishing the game with 24 points on 71 percent shooting without a single turnover, there was little that went wrong last night for Oubre. Even some of his more ill-advised shots went in as if it was his destiny to lift this Sixers squad over the Cavs.

Oubre has historically been an uneven player of sorts, but the potential for this type of two-way performance has always hung around him. If he is able to channel this type of game more often, he will be among the most sought-after free agents in the league this summer.

While K9’s bite proved just as strong as his bark, Ricky Council IV also proved just as deserving of his nickname, C4. Say it any way you want, but Council has exploded onto the scene for the Sixers over these last three games due to, well, his explosive play.

In the wake of the city of Philadelphia debating how much of a loss losing Jaden Springer truly was, C4 has quickly made fans forget their initial frustration from the deadline move that sent their young defender to the Boston Celtics.

Over his last two games with the Sixers, since he has been thrust into a greater role, Council has responded by averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while playing a key role in back-to-back wins, even in the game’s closing minutes.

It’s obviously early, but it seems the Sixers truly have found a diamond in the rough so far in Ricky Council IV.

And unrelated to either K9 or C4, but how could we discuss this game without shouting out Paul Reed for his game-saving block on Donovan Mitchell?

Up next for the Sixers

With one game left ahead of the All-Star break, the Sixers will return to Philadelphia to face the Miami Heat. Reinforcements may be on their way for Philly in the form of Nico Batum and De’Anthony Melton. Head coach Nick Nurse previously expressed that there was a “decent” chance that Batum would return ahead of the All-Star break, and Wednesday night will be the last opportunity for that to happen.

Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) and Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry, right, go for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In addition to Batum and Melton, there is a slight chance that new addition Kyle Lowry will make his Sixers debut against Miami. While it would be perfectly sensical for him to sit through the All-Star break before officially joining his new team on the court, the opportunity to play his former team in front of his hometown crowd may prove too tempting to pass up.

Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.