Embiid: ‘It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win a championship’

Joel Embiid had a monster game on Sunday night against the Jazz, and the 76ers needed all of it. Embiid scored a career-high 59 points (19-28 FG, 20-24 FT) to go with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks as the 76ers defeated the Jazz 105-98 at Wells Fargo Center. 

According to Stathead, Embiid’s 59-point outing is the fifth-highest-scoring game in team history. In addition, he became the first player to reach such totals in the same game since blocked shots became a statistic in 1973-74. 

Embiid scored 26 of the team’s 27 fourth-quarter points and blocked five shots in the quarter. He did it all for Philadelphia.

The points were great, but the blocks and rebounds impressed 76ers head coach Doc Rivers.

I’ve seen guys score a lot of points. I haven’t seen guys score a lot of points, rebound, and then the block shots,” Rivers said after the in. “That was impressive. He was getting everything. I’ve never seen a more dominating performance when you look at both offense and defense.”

Embiid, who had 42 points against the Hawks on Saturday night, has scored 101 points in the last two games. According to the five-time All-Star, it’s all about winning.

“We still have a lot more to accomplish,” he said. “We can talk about whatever tonight, stats and all of that tonight, but that’s not what matters. It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win a championship. That would be the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if I’m averaging 10 points, 30, or whatever; if we win a championship, that’s all that matters.”

Tyrese Maxey scored 18 points for the 76ers on Sunday night, and what impressed him was seeing Embiid score 59 points on the second half of a back-to-back.

“He’s [Joel Embiid] a soldier,” Maxey said. “He was coming in saying his shoulder was hurting and stuff like that. For him to go out there and play and give it his all is huge. It’s huge for this team and huge for this organization. Your best player, after a 42-point performance last night on a back-to-back, he comes out here and dominates again. Has 59-points and seven blocks and ten boards, and eight assists. Just his presence was really good tonight. He made shots. He made free throws. He’s just good at basketball. It’s that simple.”

This was an exceptional performance by Embiid, but again, most importantly, the 76ers got two big wins over the weekend to even their record at 7-7. It’s still early, but this would be a good time for Philly to start stringing together some wins.

76ers exercise team options on Maxey, Springer

The Philadelphia 76ers have exercised the fourth-year contract option for Tyrese Maxey and the third-year contract option for Jaden Springer; both will take effect for the 2023-24 season, the team announced Sunday.  

Maxey played in 75 games (74 starts) in his second NBA season in 2021-22, upping his scoring average from 8.0 to 17.5 while shooting .485 from the floor. The third-year guard’s points-per-game increase ranked as the largest among second-year players last season, while his .427 mark from three-point range was third in the NBA. Maxey reached the 20-point mark on 25 occasions, including five games of 30-plus points. 

After seven games this season, Maxey is averaging 22.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per contest on .504 shooting (.468 3FG).

Originally selected by the 76ers with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, the 21-year-old has been impressive, and at some point, there could be a max contract in his future.

The 20-year-old Springer, who was selected 28th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, has played mainly in the G League, where he played in 19 career G League games (18 starts) for the Delaware Blue Coats, averaging 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 26.8 minutes per contest. Springer helped lead Delaware to its second consecutive appearance in the G League Finals. 

Named to the 2021-22 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team during his lone collegiate season at Tennessee, Springer led the Volunteers in scoring (12.5 ppg), three-point percentage (.435 3FG), and free throws made (81). 

76ers begin season in Boston, battle Knicks on Christmas Day

For the first time since 2019, the Philadelphia 76ers will play on Christmas Day as they travel to Madison Square Garden to battle the Knicks, the team announced Wednesday.

Philadelphia will tip off the NBA season against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in what will serve as the league’s first game of the new campaign.

The 76ers will be on national television 34 times next season.   

Philly’s home opener will be against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, Oct. 20. In addition, Ben Simmons and the Nets come to Philly on November 22, which should be a lot of fun.

Five of its first seven games are coming against 2021-22 playoff qualifiers. The 76ers will also conclude the regular season with 12 consecutive matchups against playoff teams from the previous year.

Schedule Notes:

  • The NBA announced that no games will be played on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in an effort to focus on promoting and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections.

  • Philadelphia will host the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday, Dec. 16 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

  • The 76ers will have 17 weekend games (nine Fridays, five Saturdays, three Sundays) at The Center.

  • Philadelphia is slated for 13 sets back-to-back games, four of which will come on the road in March.

  • Also in March, Philadelphia will have 12 away games, marking the most games away from The Center for a single month this season.

  • Philadelphia’s longest road trip of the season runs eight days and five games in length from Jan. 14-21. This includes games against Utah (Saturday, Jan. 14, 10 p.m. ET), the Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday, Jan. 15, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV), the LA Clippers (Tuesday, Jan. 17, 10 p.m. ET, TNT), Portland (Thursday, Jan. 19, 10 p.m., ET), and Sacramento (Saturday, Jan. 21, 10 p.m. ET).

  • The 76ers’ longest homestand of 2022-23 is seven games over 15 days from Dec. 9-23. This stretch includes games against the Lakers (Friday, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Hornets (Sunday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m. ET), Kings (Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. ET), Warriors (Friday, Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Raptors (Monday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m. ET), Pistons (Wednesday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m. ET), and Clippers (Friday, Dec. 23, 7 p.m. ET).22-23_ScheduleRelease

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Harden: ‘Nothing really changed, man, just made some shots’

On Sunday night, James Harden had his most significant moment as a 76er, and it came at the right time.

Harden scored 16 of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, with seven rebounds, and nine assists as the 76ers defeated the Heat 116-108 to tie their Eastern Conference second-round series at 2-2.

The pivotal Game 5 is Tuesday night in Miami.

Harden, who was acquired from Brooklyn before the trade deadline, was 5/9 from the field, including 4/6 from deep in the fourth quarter. 

“That’s why he’s here,” Joel Embiid said about Harden.

“Just took what the defense gave me,” Harden said. “Same shots just made some. Nothing really changed, man, just made some shots. Obviously, that’s a game-changer, but just being aggressive… and that group that started the fourth quarter did a really good job of pushing the lead up and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Tyrese Maxey, who scored 18 points, was excited to see Harden go off.

“It was great,” Maxey said. “It was amazing. It was great to see. You know, they were switching everything and didn’t let me have a lot of movement or a lot of continuity, so he just hit some big, long one shots, and in the playoffs, sometimes everyone knows what you are trying to do. Everybody knows what each team is trying to do to you, and they take things away, and it’s nice to have a lot of three-level scorers on your team, and we have a few of those collectively, maybe four or five of them, and it’s just night-to-night to prepare and hook up.”

The 76ers have knotted the series at two after winning Games 3 & 4, but according to Embiid, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds Sunday night, Philly has not played their best game yet in this series.

“I mean, the way we played is the reason why we were able to tie the series, but I don’t think we have played our best basketball,” Embiid said. “Tonight , we had way too many turnovers, 16, and we missed a bunch of wide-open shots.”

It’s the best of three, and the 76ers have the momentum, but they still have to win in Miami, which won’t be easy. However, if Harden can play as he did in Game 4, and Embiid can continue to build on his performance on Sunday, Philly has a shot. 

Notes:

-Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 40 points to go along with six assists. This is the fourth 40-point playoff game of Butler’s career.

-Danny Green continued his strong shooting with a 4-6 performance including three makes from deep as he totaled 11 points to go along with two steals.

-Philadelphia had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

 

 

 

 

 

Rivers on Embiid: ‘I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is’

The Philadelphia 76ers got a big boost Friday night when their All-Star and probably soon-to-be league MVP Joel Embiid returned after missing the for two games of their second round series against the Miami Heat with a broken orbital bone and concussion. 

Embiid did his job on the offensive end as he had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he also anchored a defense that held Miami to 79 points as Philly defeated the Heat 99-79 at Wells Fargo Center. 

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Miami still leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night in Philly.

According to StatHead, this marked the first time since the 2012 postseason where Philly has held an opponent to fewer than 80 points.

After the win, head coach Doc Rivers discussed the presence of Embiid.

I mean, just his presence, obviously, to start the game,” Rivers said. “His energy, his rebounding. His ability at the basket. I’ve said it all year; you could see his timing was off a little bit. But his presence defensively, I really don’t – I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is and how much he helps us. And I thought tonight; it was a lot of that.”

According to Embiid, he did not have a lot of energy, but he was pleased with what he did defensively.

 “I didn’t think I had a lot of energy, honestly,” Embiid said. “I was really trying to really get through it. Kind of, you just use my presence out there as a decoy. I feel like I pride myself really defensively. And I feel like that’s where my presence is really felt. On the defensive end. So that’s one of the main reasons why playing I thought I could have a huge impact.”

Embiid, who stayed back in Philly for Games 1 & 2, had a hard time watching his team struggle in Miami. 

“It was very annoying just watching,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t make shots, but we also made a lot of mistakes. Whether it was offensive rebounding or turnovers. Their big fella, Bam [Adebayo], was dominating. And I was really pissed off watching another big man play well against my team. It’s unfortunate. Can’t take it back. Now we’ve just got to focus on the next game.”

Role players play better at home, and Danny Green played his role and then some as he had a team-high tying 21 points, including a playoff career-high seven threes. 

In the first two games of this series, Green was 2-14 from deep, but that all changed Friday night. However, he’s not satisfied.

“It felt good to be able to help my team and do my job, that’s it,” Green said. “I’m not in any way, shape, or form satisfied; we are not taking any deep breaths or exhaling; we know we have to win another game, so we have to stay locked in and focused, taking it one game at a time, hopefully, we can keep that momentum and have another decent shooting night on Sunday.”

After going scoreless in the first half, Maxey went off in the second half as he had 21 points, including 14 points in the fourth.

“I just started being aggressive,’ Maxey said. “I kind of was, you know, let the game come to me a little bit. Got the Big Fella [Joel Embiid] back. James [Harden] was attacking and doing a really good job of that. And, I don’t really have to force anything. It’s kind of get it where I can fit in at, and when it’s time to make some big shots, I’m gonna try to make some big shots.”

The 76ers have a chance in this series as long as Embiid is on the court, and while he was not at his best, he was good enough. Can we expect Miami to shoot 35% from the floor and go 7/30 downtown in Game 4? Probably not. However, in his second game back, Embiid might be better, and the 76ers, who had 19 turnovers in Game 3, could be better on offense as well.

If Philly wants to make it a series, they have to win Game 4, and we’ll see if they can make that happen on Sunday.

Notes:

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler scored a game-best 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and two steals.

Back to Danny Green. he joins former 76er Seth Curry(who was in attendance Friday night) and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson as the only players in team history with at least seven made three-pointers in a playoff game (Stathead).

James Harden had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. He also had seven turnovers. 

As a team, Philadelphia shot well from beyond the arc(16-33 (.485).

Embiid on Maxey: ‘He’s been doing that all season’

The playoffs are where players make a name for themselves, and second-year guard Tyrese Maxey might be on his way to doing that.

In Game 1 of Philly’s first-round series against the Raptors, the 21-year-old Maxey scored 21 of his 38 points (14-21 FG, 5-8 3FG, 5-5 FT) in the third as the 76ers routed the Raptors 131-111 at Wells Fargo Center Saturday night. 

According to SportsRader, Maxey’s 38 points were the most by a 76er age 21-or-younger in a playoff game in franchise history. In addition, he joined LeBron James and Magic Johnson as the only players to score at least 38 points at 22 years and 163 days or younger.

He was great,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said about Maxey after the win. “I mean, we worked on that little action for four days, and his speed is a factor; we know that we have to keep using it, putting him in space, some nights maybe him driving and passing, tonight it was him driving and getting to the basket and making shots.”

The 21-point third quarter for Maxey was the most by a 76er since Allen Iverson’s memorable 2001 season, where he had 26 points in the fourth quarter in the Eastern Conference Finals.

According to Maxey, the team wanted him to be aggressive in this series.

“Honestly, I just went out there and tried my best for my team,’ he said. “I mean, that’s really all I do every single night and being aggressive, they told me I needed to be aggressive in this series, and I tried to start out fast for us.”

Tobias Harris, who had 26 points, six rebounds, and six assists, added on Maxey: “It was pretty spectacular, really. Honestly. That third quarter. The stretch that he [Tyrese Maxey] had. The shots that he was making. The confidence. It was just all coming together. Even from the beginning of the game, he had it going. That third-quarter stretch, we had a couple of possessions early on where we didn’t really get what he wanted. Once we got the ball in his hands, he just got to it. Made his looks and just had it rolling. Hats off to him because he played a heck of a game.”

James Harden saw growth from Maxey.

I saw growth,” Harden said. “I saw from being up and down not really having consistent minutes last year in the postseason to starting and playing a huge role in a championship contender team. He was calm out there; he took his shots when they were open, he took his attacks when they were available, and he just made the right play which he does. Since I’ve been here, I’ve saw that, so tonight was no different; he took his shots, and he was ultra-confident, and that’s what we are going to need going forward.”

Embiid wants to see Maxey and the 76ers play like this three more times.

“I mean, it’s great; like I’ve been saying, we all need everybody, so I am happy that he played so well tonight,” Embiid said. “He’s been doing that all season, so it’s only one game, so we need to do it three more times.”

If Maxey does this three more times in this series, we’ll be talking about him for a long time.

Game 2 is Monday night in Philly. 

Notes:

-According to Elias Sports Bureau, Embiid (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Harden (22 points, 14 assists) became the fourth pair of 76ers teammates to post reach a point-rebound and point-assist double-double in the same game.

-Maxey’s 38 points while shooting .667 from the floor is tied for the best field-goal percentage in league history by a player 21 years-or-younger while scoring at least 35 points (Stathead). 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to 76ers: ‘That game was taken from us’

This season, the Cavaliers have not been able to solve the riddle that is the Philadelphia 76ers. In the first three meetings between these two teams, Cleveland was 0-3.

The Cavs had one final chance to defeat the 76ers Sunday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. However, just like the previous three meetings, they could not get it done. Joel Embiid had 44 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks, and James Harden recorded a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists as the 76ers defeated the Cavs 112-108 to sweep the season=series.

Cleveland(43-36) has now lost six of eight; the 76ers(48-30) have won two straight and clinched a playoff berth with the win.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the 76ers:

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland led the Cavs with a team-high 23 points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Garland recorded his 40th 20-plus point game this season. Interestingly enough, the All-Star scored 20-plus points 26 times in the first two seasons of his career. Garland is truly having a special season.

-Lamar Stevens has found his groove, and he continues to be a key contributor on both ends of the court. Stevens had 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, and three blocks. Great effort from Stevens!

-Caris LeVert is looking more and more comfortable each game, and he had 18 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. Obviously, Cleveland will need LeVert’s ability to get to the basket and score in the playoffs, which he did Sunday night.

Second Quarter:  Cleveland led 23-21 after the first quarter. The Cavs started the second quarter on a 14-4 run to take their largest lead of the game at 37-25. They shot 55% from the field, including 67% from three-point range. Stevens led the way with seven points in the quarter. Ultimately, the Cavs led 55-49 at halftime.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: The Cavs had some momentum coming into the third, but Embiid(14 points) and Tyrese Maxey(eight points) started attacking and combined for 22 of Philly’s 32 points in the quarter. The 76ers also picked things up defensively as the Cavs shot 36% from the field, including 25%(2/8) from downtown. Philly, who shot 56% from the field, including 5/6 from deep, outscored Cleveland 32-25 in the quarter. The 76ers led 81-80 after three.

Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded 50-41 by the 76ers, and Philadelphia had 16 second-chance points. The 76ers shot only 41% from the floor, but they did a great job on the glass.

Playing defense without fouling: Embiid(17/20) and Harden(11/12) combined for 32 of the 76ers’ 42 free throw attempts. You can argue that it should go both ways, but in reality, these two just know how to create contact. Maybe you can blame the officials, who knows, but you have to find a way to defend these two without fouling. Cleveland did have 31 free throw attempts Sunday night, and while Philly did have 42 attempts, four of them came due to intentional fouls by the Cavs late in the game, so free throw disparity was not that drastic.

Late-game execution: With the 76ers holding a 107-106 lead, Darius Garland’s floater was blocked by Embiid with 15.2 seconds in the game. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Garland was fouled on his drive, but there was no call. 

Cleveland trailed by three with 07.2 seconds to go, but Love’s inbound pass was stolen by Matisse Thybulle, which ended in a Tobias Harris dunk that sealed the game. 

Bottom Line:

Cleveland played their heart out against Philadelphia. All four matchups between these two teams have felt like the playoffs, and while Philly swept the season series, these games were very competitive and a lot of fun. 

The Cavs have played well in their last two games, which is the most important thing at this point of the season. Hopefully, they can get Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen back for the playoffs.

With the Cavs now 2.5 games behind the Bulls and Raptors for one of the top six spots in the East, and only three games to play, Cleveland might think about resting some guys before the start of the Play-in Tournament. However, J.B. Bickerstaff did say postgame that was not the plan, which is understandable. There’s still meaningful basketball left as the Cavs want to get at least the seventh seed.

The Cavs are 1.5 games up on the eighth-seeded Hawks(41-37) and 2.5 games up on the ninth-seeded Hornets(40-38) and the tenth seed, the Nets(40-38).

Quotes:

“That game was taken from us,” Bickerstaff said. “We deserved to win it.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland goes to Orlando to play the Magic Tuesday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Lauri Markkanen had 16 points, including four threes and seven rebounds. Kevin Love added 12 points off the bench.

-Rajon Rondo returned after missing 11 games with an ankle injury. He had six points in 14 minutes of action.

-Maxey and Harris had 11 points apiece for the 76ers.

-According to StatMuse, Embiid joins Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Patrick Ewing as the only players with multiple 40-point/15 rebound/5 block games since 1990.

Listen below as Bickerstaff talks loss to Cavs and more:

76ers’ Rivers: ‘He [Tyrese Maxey] was awesome’

After losing to the Raptors at home Sunday night, the 76ers(44-27) returned to their home floor Monday to battle the team with the best record in the East, the Miami Heat(47-25), but in this game, the 76ers were without their two best players in Joel Embiid(Back soreness) and James Harden(Left Hamstring; Injury Recovery).

However, they did have Tyrese Maxey, who got the job done for Philadelphia.

Maxey scored 13 of his game-high 28 points(9/15 FG, 3/7 3-PT FG, 7/7 FT) in the fourth quarter to go along with five rebounds and four assists as the 76ers defeated the Heat 113-106.

The second-year guard was a perfect 5/5 from the field, including 2/2 from deep in the fourth quarter, and he also did it on the defensive end as Maxey had a fantastic block on Caleb Martin.

“He [Tyrese Maxey] was awesome,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said. “And again, he sat when we were making the run. He was watching Shake [Milton] and Furk [Furkan Korkmaz] and Georges [Niang] and that group. When he came in, we explained to him very clearly what we were trying to do. And we got that, a lot. We got the right place on the floor. He attacked. The threes were great. More importantly, he made a defensive play to win the game. That was one hell of a block.”

The 21-year-old Maxey was also getting love from the fans as they chanted his name in the fourth, but he gave credit to Shake Milton(20 points, five rebounds, six assists), Furkan Kormaz(16 points, 4/7 3pt FG, and six rebounds), and Paul Millsap(five points and four rebounds).

“Hearing it is different. It’s different,” Maxey said about the fans’ chants. “But, I can’t take any of this credit. I’m just looking at the stats right here and guys like Shake [Milton] and Furk [Furkan Korkmaz] and Paul Millsap. Paul Millsap starts tonight. I don’t think he played in the last ten games. Furk hasn’t played much. But for those guys to stay ready and come in and play 31, 27 minutes, it’s just testimony to our group.”

Maxey also discussed his sensational block on Martin.

“We turned the ball over, first of all,” he said. “It was hard to get in. It was a hard spot. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘either he’s [Caleb Martin] gonna have to dunk on me today, or I will get this block.’ It was one or the other. And just one of those plays where you have to put your body on the line. And coach Doc [Doc Rivers] always messes with me, saying I’m six-foot and I need to stop trying to block shots. I got in there today, and he said, ‘that was a great block, but I don’t want to see you ever block another shot again.’ It was great, though.”

This might have been the best win of the season for Philadelphia when you consider they had their two best players in street clothes. Strange things happen in sports sometimes, and to Philly’s credit, they battled, guys stepped up, and again, the 76ers got the job done.

Back to Maxey, it’s clear; he’s going to be a star for sure!

Cavs falls short again against Philadelphia

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a difficult time with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Coming into their matchup against Philly, the Cavs were 0-2 versus the 76ers after losing both games in Philadelphia.

The Cavs battled the 76ers for the third time this season Wednesday night, but this time, they played Philly at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

However, the result was the same.

Behind Joel Embiid’s 35 points and 17 rebounds, Tyrese Maxey’s 25 points, and James Harden’s 21 points and 11 assists, the 76ers defeated the Cavs 118-114.

Cleveland(39-30) has now lost nine of their last 13 games; Philadelphia(42-26) moves to 7-2 with Harden in the lineup.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Philadelphia.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Isaac Okoro had his second consecutive strong game for the Cavaliers. Okoro had 17 points, including three threes and five rebounds. The second-year guard had 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists against the Clippers Monday night and kept the flow going against Philadelphia.

-Darius Garland led the Cavs with 22 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. The All-Star shot 5/15 from the field but made 11/12 free throws. 

-Moses Brown, who signed a 10-day contract with Cleveland last week, gave the Cavs some great minutes Wednesday night. In 11 energetic minutes, Brown had eight points, two rebounds, two steals, and a block. Brown, who was +5 Monday night, may have definitely earned a second 10-day contract with this performance.

Third Quarter: The Cavs trailed 72-59 at halftime. However, in the third, they finally woke up. After the 76ers took an 11-point lead(79-68) with just under eight minutes to go, Cleveland went on a 19-6 run to take their first lead. The Cavs shot 55% from the field, including 63% from three-point range in the quarter, and they held Philadelphia to 26% shooting from the floor, including 0/8 from downtown. Cleveland outscored the 76ers 31-13 in the quarter and took a 90-85 lead into the fourth. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Half: The Cavs got off to a slow start against the 76ers. They let Philadelphia shoot 58% from the field in the first half, and, like most of the NBA, had no answer for Embiid, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds at the break. Ultimately, Philly scored 72 points in the first half.

Fourth Quarter: Philly started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to take the lead back. From there, it was a back-and-forth affair. Lauri Markkanen hit a three to give Cleveland their final lead of the game at 104-103 with just under four minutes to go. However, the 76ers took the lead back for good on a James Harden floater with 3:20 left in the game. Philadelphia shot 64% from the field and 67% from deep in the quarter and outscored Cleveland 33-24 in the final stanza.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs just can’t get over the hump against Philadelphia. They played well at times, especially in the third, but could not close out the game. If the playoffs were to start today, they would play Philly in the first round, which might be a tall order for the Cavs.

Cleveland competed, but it was not good enough against the 76ers.

You thought Cleveland could be safe after they defeated the Raptors on March 6 to take a three-game lead in the standings. However, as you look at the standings now, you have to be a little concerned.

Cleveland and Toronto(39-30) are tied for the sixth spot in the East, but the Cavs hold the tiebreaker as they lead the season-series versus the Raptors 3-0. However, Toronto has won five straight after going 5-0 on their west coast road trip. 

The top six teams in the conference are guaranteed a playoff spot. Seeds 7-10 have to compete in a Play-In Tournament to make the playoffs.

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their five-game homestand as they host the Nuggets Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Cleveland had six players in double figures Wednesday night. Caris LeVert had 15 points and seven assists off the bench.

-Cedi Osman was a healthy scratch, and according Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, he wanted to give Dylan Windler minutes.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to the 76ers, more:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to 76ers: ‘We felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while’

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!

Bottom Line:

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.”

What’s Next:

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.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to 76ers: