Philadelphia beat the Cavaliers 118-109 on Wednesday night, with Joel Embiid having another monster game. This is the second game in a row where Philly defeated Cleveland, as they won their matchup prior 118-112 on February 16th. It was clear that the 76ers wanted to take the momentum from that win into this game. Obviously, this did indeed happen, as Philadelphia didn’t miss a beat. This was also their sixth win in a row, which is a league high.
The Sixers are now only one game behind the second-seeded Celtics, and 3.5 games behind the one-seeded Bucks.
Embiid finished with an astonishing 36 point and a double-double. James Harden also finished with a double-double, having 38 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. Tyrese Maxey also showed signs of his all-star caliber play with a 23-point performance. P.J. Tucker also surprised us, having a rare defensive showing. He scored six points and had six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
The Sixers did all of this without Jalen McDaniels, who was out with a hip injury that he sustained in his last game against the Wizards. Granted, Jarrett Allen was out for Cleveland with an eye injury.
Embiid is Simply Unguardable
Joel Embiid once again showed why he should be the MVP. Finishing with 36 points, he showed that he is not afraid of anybody in his way. If Embiid wanted a bucket, he got it. He was hitting shots from just about everywhere on the court, including this bank shot to beat the buzzer.
Whenever Embiid drove into the paint, it seemed like he was always getting a bucket. Not one player for the Cavs could stop the seven-footer, as the only defensive strategy J.B. Bickerstaff gave to his players was to get in Embiid’s face. And almost every time they did that, he got fouled. This method proved ineffective, as Joel hit all 10 of his free throw attempts.
A Game of Runs
While the Sixers were winning 29-24 after the first quarter, no lead is safe as the Cavaliers responded with a 36-point second quarter as they led 60-55 going into half. In the third quarter, the Cavs went on a 14-0 run, just for Philadelphia to hit them right back with an even bigger run. The Sixers trimmed the Cavs 70-57 lead all the way into an 84-83 lead for Philly. Georges Niang was lighting it up from downtown during the run, as well as Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey. The game got interesting in the fourth, as both teams were trading baskets. There were multiple lead changes, but around the seven-minute mark, Philadelphia took control. They went from being tied at 98 to leading 108-99 in just two quick minutes. The Sixers took this lead and didn’t take their foot of the gas.
The Sixers now take on the Hornets Friday night in Charlotte. Philadelphia won their last game against Charlotte 131-113. You might remember this one as Joel Embiid’s 53-point performance. Clearly, he has not slowed down. This could be considered as a break game for Philly, as the Hornets are second to last in the East with only 22 wins. Embiid will definitely be looking to take over this game as his only defensive threat is Nick Richards. While he could have a field day, Doc River will likely use this upcoming game as an opportunity to rest his star players.