The Cleveland Cavaliers had a big test Saturday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers in the first of four matchups between the two teams.
Cleveland was on a four-game winning streak after defeating the Pacers on the road Friday night, while the 76ers defeated the Thunder Friday night at home.
The Cavs, just like the rest of the NBA, could not stop Joel Embiid. The All-Star had his fourth career triple-double with 40 points (11-22 FG, 4-5 3FG, 14-15 FT), 14 rebounds, and 10 assists while adding three steals.
Philadelphia led most of the way and had their largest lead of 18 points in the fourth.
Ultimately, the 76ers would defeat Cleveland 103-93 at Wells Fargo Center.
With the loss, the Cavs(35-22) four-game winning streak is over; Philadelphia(34-22) has won two straight and three out of their last four.
Cleveland, the third seed in the East, is now two games behind the Heat for the top spot in the conference.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the 76ers.
The Great for the Cavs:
-First Half Darius Garland: Garland returned after missing Friday’s win over the Pacers due to lower back soreness. He was very good, especially in the first half when he scored 20 points(9/14 FG), including 2/4 from deep and three rebounds. The All-Star kept the Cavs in this one after the team’s slow start.
-Second Quarter: The Cavs got blitzed in the first quarter. They trailed by as many as 15 points and were down by 13 after one. In the second, they came alive. They went on a 21-11 run to close the gap to two and put themselves back in the game. Cleveland shot 63% from the floor in that second quarter, and they trailed 58-51 at the break.
The first four minutes of the Third Quarter: Cleveland started the third quarter on an 11-2 run to take their first lead of the game. Garland had five of the 11 points during the run. However, Philadelphia went on a 20-9 run to close the quarter and led 80-71 after three, and Cleveland never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
First Quarter: In the last seven games, Cleveland is 5-2. However, the Cavs have trailed after the first quarter in those seven games, including last night. Philadelphia shot 74% from the field, including 3/3 from deep. Embiid had 14 points, five rebounds, six assists in the quarter. Philly led 36-23 after one. However, after the first quarter, the Cavs outscored the 76ers 70-67.
Turnovers: Cleveland had 17 turnovers Saturday night, leading to 19 points for the 76ers. Garland had six of the 17 turnovers. Philadelphia had 13 steals. Most nights, the Cavs have overcome the turnovers, but against a team like Philly, that did not happen.
Second Half Garland: After a 20-point first half, Garland struggled in the final two quarters. He shot 2/9 from the field, was 1/3 from downtown, and finished with seven points in the second half, five which came in the first few minutes of the third. He also had four of his six turnovers in the second half.
However, he did finish with a team-high 27 points(11/23 FG, 3/6 3PT FG), four rebounds, and one assist.
There was a playoff atmosphere in Philadelphia Saturday night, and Cleveland was not ready for that atmosphere, which is okay because many of their players have not played in the playoffs.
Plus, Embiid is next level, and the Cavs had no answers for the MVP favorite.
Philly, who will be even better once James Harden steps on the court, sent a message to the Cavs. Cleveland has three more matchups with the 76ers, so we’ll see how they respond in those games.
Hopefully, a game like this will prepare the Cavs for the playoffs.
“It was a clear message from the beginning of the game the intensity they were coming with,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “These are the tests we talk about, and these are the lessons we have to learn. It’s a matter of playing with force and playing with speed.”
The Cavs play their final game before the All-Star break in Atlanta against the Hawks Tuesday night.
Best fo the Rest:
The Cavs had six players in double figures. Jarrett Allen had 13 points and five rebounds, Cedi Osman had 12 points off the bench, rookie Evan Mobley had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Caris LeVert had 11 points, three rebounds, six assists, and a block.
-Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey had 16 points; Matisse Thybulle had six points, three assists, six steals, and a block.
-Back to Embiid, according to Stathead, he extended his streak of 25-point outings to 23 straight, which leaves him four more performances away from tying Allen Iverson for the longest such streak in team history.
Watch this big dunk by Embiid over Allen:
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 13, 2022