The Philadelphia 76ers (50-26) returned home after their road trip and faced the Dallas Mavericks (37-40) in a nationally televised game. The Sixers snapped their three-game losing streak and won 116-108.
Let’s break down the Sixers’ win over the Mavs.
Sixers player notes:
Joel Embiid: 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 8-17 FG shooting
Embiid returned to action after resting against the Denver Nuggets and looked refreshed. He flexed off the Mavs defense routinely. He locked down on the interior and hedged on screens effectively, forcing Doncic and Irving to restart the action numerous times.
James Harden: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, 4-14 FG shooting
Back in the starting lineup after missing the last four games, Harden got hunted on defense by Doncic and looked rusty early on. He was able to mostly shake off that rust by the fourth quarter, when he orchestrated some huge buckets.
Tyrese Maxey: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 6-13 FG shooting
The Dallas-area native helped pick up the slack for Harden’s inefficiency and recorded a career-high seventh straight game with 20 points. Challenged on defense by Irving and Doncic, he held his own after a little bit. His point-of-attack pressure is proving to be a legitimate
Georges Niang: 14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 5-9 FG shooting
The Minivan came through on BOTH ends in this one. He played perhaps his best defensive game of the season, making several key plays to keep points off the board. The shot was falling, too, as he hit four triples in seven tries.
Mavs player notes:
Luka Doncic: 24 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 9-20 FG shooting
Doncic showed the Wells Fargo Center crowd that he can make just about every pass in the book with six dimes in the first quarter. He navigated his way around and through the Sixers’ defense but didn’t put up the hefty point total he usually does.
Kyrie Irving: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5. assists, 2 steals, 8-17 FG shooting
Irving has given the Sixers plenty of trouble this season both as a Net and a Maverick, especially when the two teams combined for an offensive showcase for the ages. This was one of his less effective games, which should show underscore good he’s been. He still made tough shots look easy and made plays for others.
Tim Hardaway Jr.: 21 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 8-15 FG shooting
Hardaway feasted off of passes from his star teammates, nailing five triples. Not only was he firing away off the catch but he also put the ball on the floor to get past defenders on closeouts.
Maxey matched up with Irving on defense while Tobias Harris was the first to take the Doncic assignment. Dwight Powell guarded Embiid but it was clear (if it wasn’t already) that Embiid is too big for him to handle. Embiid went right at him, getting him to commit a pair of fouls in the first four minutes. But a pair of Irving threes where he cut off of screens and fired off the catch helped keep Dallas in front early on.
After a fan sitting courtside chirped at Irving (and got a response), the Mavs star took a loose ball for an and-one layup, leaving Maxey with his second foul. He drew another shooting foul, this time on Embiid, after a long outlet pass from Doncic to Josh Green made it to him in the post. Dallas went up by as much as 12.
The Sixers’ first-quarter turnover problems came back but Embiid kept them in it, dominating the interior and taking advantage of the attention he got in the post to swing it to Melton for three. Paul Reed got the first backup center minutes of the night and the Harden-and-bench squad briefly got Philly back in front. Georges Niang helped undo some great minutes (providing two triples and some nice defensive plays) by fouling Josh Green on made triple.
It continued to rain threes for Philly in the second quarter despite Embiid and Harden both sitting. A mix of good ball movement and pressure from Maxey and Melton to create openings helped them manage without the two stars. It was the opposite of the heliocentric, Maxey-led offense that worked against Denver but still produced decent results. Philly kept the deficit entering the second quarter manageable for five minutes before Embiid and Harden came back in.
The Sixers’ offense stagnated, taking a while to get it to Embiid and leaving possessions with shot attempts that were less than ideal. The Mavs spaced out their offense with Maxi Kleber at center, making it tough for the Sixers to use Embiid as a roamer/helper for whoever guarded Doncic. Philly ripped off a 6-0 run before the half and trailed 62-57.
After the maintenance crew fixed an issue on the rim on the right side of the court, Maxey broke in the new netting on a breakaway layup. Embiid splashed a jumper but then tweaked his right arm after breaking up a lob attempt, though he stayed in the game. Maxey built on a strong start to the quarter by getting the better of Doncic on a few defensive plays and putting the pedal to the metal on fastbreaks.
The Sixers’ defense started to pick up, aside from a few breakdowns that resulted in wide-open corner threes (of which Dallas only cashed in on one). Doncic and Irving found it tougher to get to their spots or find open teammates, as Philly’s pressure on the ball led to Doncic turnovers. Transition defense was not as pretty, though, and it bailed Dallas out.
Doc Rivers again had Embiid and Harden rest at the same time, though this time their simultaneous rest started during the end of the third quarter. Once again, the bench boys came through. They tied the game up after Paul Reed snagged an offensive board and fed Niang on an open look. A flagrant foul from Jalen McDaniels killed some of the buzz but it was still a two-point game heading into the fourth.
Harden started the fourth and instantly made plays to get the Sixers in front but Tim Hardaway Jr. had responses for both buckets. Embiid returned to a three-point deficit with eight minutes to play and hit a triple to tie it up shortly thereafter. A middie from the nail gave them the lead and brought Doncic back into the game.
The Mavs gave the Sixers some breaks with a frenzy of fouls as Harden continued dicing up the Dallas defense with his passing. Philly led by six, its biggest lead, before Doncic drilled a triple over the outstretched arm of Embiid. He got back at him with a nasty block at the rim to seal the win.
National media members whining about Daryl Morey’s tweets that support Embiid for MVP and take light digs at the media is so silly. They’re snarky, sure, but not anything worth flipping out about. I really fail to see how Morey’s ticket giveaway contributes to the toxicity of MVP discourse.
McDaniels missed a lob. Drink. (x2)
Amazing sequence from Bball Paul in the fourth: get OREB, get fouled on putback and miss, fail to get the whistle, make the same play, convert the layup, get the foul call, argue with the ref.
The Sixers’ next game is on Friday against the Toronto Raptors.
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