The Philadelphia 76ers began a very tough stretch of their schedule in Ohio on Wednesday as they paid a visit to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers, starting on Wednesday with the Cavs, will play seven of their next eight games on the road so they were looking for a good start.
The Sixers started this one off on the right note as Joel Embiid was dominant in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers stormed back in the second quarter taking advantage of a bench-heavy lineup. However, Embiid was too much for the Cavs to handle and the Sixers walked away with a 118-109 win. Philadelphia now holds the tiebreaker in the standings over Cleveland.
Embiid had 36 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks to lead the way. He was called for an offensive foul in the fourth quarter, but the Sixers challenged the call and it was overturned to keep him on the floor. James Harden had 28 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds, and Tyrese Maxey added 23. Shake Milton had 11 huge points off the bench, Georges Niang had eight, and Tobias Harris had a tough night with just seven points and five rebounds.
Here are the player grades following the win:
The Cavs are an excellent defensive team, but they are still a young group. Harden seemed to take advantage of that early as he drew some fouls. He also was able to get his teammates involved as well as Philadelphia had offensive success to start. When he re-entered in the second quarter, it was a struggle as Cleveland put so much defensive focus on him as he was out there with four reserves. For the most part, Harden made the right decision throughout the night, and when the opportunity to score was there, he took advantage of it.
It is interesting to see how well Maxey plays as a stater compared to coming off the bench. Even though he wasn’t scoring much in the previous handful of games before this one, he was attacking with confidence and that was the case in this one. He had eight points in the opening quarter and he was going at Cleveland defenders. He had a tough night defensively, but he was able to offset some of that with his offensive ability. His 3-point shooting and the pressure he continued to put on the rim was important against this Cavs defense.
The first half for Harris was rough. He looked out of place on the offensive end at times, he missed a few bunnies, and then he got called for a technical foul when he was arguing a non-call on a play the Cavs…
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