The Cleveland Cavaliers came to Philly to battle the 76ers Friday night, hoping to rebound from their bad loss to the Hornets Wednesday.
Cleveland played well and had their largest lead of 21 points in the first quarter, but Philly’s Tyrese Maxey(33 points), Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds), and James Harden(25 points and 11 assists) combined for 80 points and the 76ers defeated Cleveland 125-119 at Wells Fargo Center.
The Cavs(36-27) have lost three straight and six of their last seven, while the 76ers(39-23) have won five straight.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the 76ers:
The Great for the Cavs:
-All-Star Darius Garland again played like an All-Star as he had 26 points(10/22, 4/8 3 PT FG), a career-high 19 assists, two steals, and a block. The 19 dimes are tied for the most by a player in a game this season. Garland sliced and diced Philly’s defense all night long.
-Isaac Okoro scored 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter. Okoro scored his points on an array of drives to the basket, and the Cavs’ offense looked better with Okoro attacking.
First Half: Cleveland came out in the first quarter on fire after getting blown out by the Hornets Wednesday night. They hit their first nine shots. Cleveland finished the first quarter shooting 74% from the floor, including 80%(4/5 FG) from deep. Cleveland scored 43 points in the first and led 43-30 after one.
The Cavs would shoot 62% from the field in the first half. However, because Philly has a prolific offense, they were able to stay in the game, and Cleveland led 71-63 at the half.
The 71 points are the Cavs’ highest total on the road in any half this season.
-Jarrett Allen was solid for the Cavs. He shot well(7/8 FG), and he had 20 points, seven rebounds, and a block. He went head-to-head with Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds) and held his own.
-Cedi Osman scored 10 of his 20 in the second quarter off the Cavs’ bench. This is Osman’s second 20-plus point performance in the last three games.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
Cleveland shot 54% from the floor, scored 119 points, and did a lot right.
We could point to defense as they allowed Philly to shoot 55% from the field and score 125 points, but not much bad here!
Cleveland went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in a playoff atmosphere and held their own. The last time they went to Philly, the Cavs got blitzed and fell apart, but this time they battled.
There is no such thing as a good loss at this level, but this was a good loss. Philly is built to win now, while the Cavs have to get to that level. Cleveland could get to that level, but the 76ers are the better team at this point.
No one expected the Cavs to be this good this season, but now, the goal for Cleveland is to avoid the Play-in Tournament.
To the standings, the Cavs dropped to the sixth seed and are one game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(38-27) and two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors(34-29).
“I mean, we were better; we felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while,” Bickerstaff said. “We just happened to run into a really good basketball team, but there are no silver linings; our guys played Cavalier basketball tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Cleveland returns home Sunday to battle the Toronto Raptors.
Best of the Rest:
-On Friday, Bickerstaff was been fined $20,000 for directing inappropriate language toward game officials and for failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection.
He received two technical fouls and was ejected in the third quarter of the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hornets
-Philly had six players in double figures; Cleveland had five players in double figures.
-The 76ers took their first lead of the game on George Niang(17 points) floater with 1:55 left in the third.
-The trio of Embiid/Harden/Maxey have combined for 80 points or more in three of the last four games.