It didn’t much seem like the Philadelphia 76ers, a contender to make the Finals out of the East, wanted to deal with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon. Cleveland managed to jump to an early lead and battled throughout, but the 76ers woke up enough to walk away with what looked like an easy 128-105 win.
Philly is set to head to San Antonio on a road back-to-back, and their effort early against Cleveland showed they didn’t have their focus on this one. The Cavaliers, for all their faults both from a tactics and talent perspective, work hard.
A small-ball lineup featuring Matthew Dellavedova, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, David Nwaba and Larry Nance Jr. gave Philly fits early on, and the team jumped to a 36-29 lead after the first quarter.
From there on out, Philly decided the Cavaliers were worthy of their effort and started to leverage their talents into a parade of layups for the remainder of the game, including a 36-22 second quarter. The Cavs stayed in contact for the majority of the action, and a late third quarter run brought them back within four heading into the fourth quarter.
The 76ers re-engaged during the fourth quarter though, and started the quarter on an 11-0 run to functionally end the hopes for the Cavs.
Cleveland really missed Tristan Thompson in this one. Joel Embiid’s 22 points and nine rebounds didn’t appear overwhelming, but the 76ers ravaged the Cavs on the offensive boards, with an 12-6 advantage.
David Nwaba and Matthew Dellavedova continue to be plus-minus stars off the bench for this team in minutes that can best be defined as “try-hard”. Delly continued his ridiculous offensive start after being among the worst players in the league on that end of the floor this year with Milwaukee, dropping 13 points and seven assists in his 22 minutes.
Among the starters, Cedi Osman had a strong offensive game amid a series of clunkers, dropping 18 points on 6-10 shooting from the field. He needs to continue to look for his shot aggressively, even if it’s not falling.
Collin Sexton had an odd game, starting 4-5 from the field before mostly disappearing for the remainder of the game. He’s really struggling to find any rhythm on offense, especially against teams with length like Milwaukee or Philly. He can’t get to the rim, and he’s not a good enough shooter to build his game around that. That leaves him in no man’s land.
Ante Zizic also finally had a decent offensive game in a rare spot start as the Cavaliers continue their weird trend of not starting Larry Nance against opposing centers, but was constantly exploited for his lack of foot speed on the other end.
The Cavaliers have to lead the league in decent performances that end in 20-point losses. I don’t know what that means, but there you go.
The team ends their three-game homestand at 1-2, and are set to hit the road for three games against Indiana, Charlotte and Toronto.