The Cleveland Cavaliers’ cavalry arrived tonight as Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova both made their long-awaited returns to the lineup. But the reinforcements weren’t enough to withstand a long-range barrage, as the Philadelphia 76ers bombed their way to a 114–94 victory.
The two vets’ impact was obvious from the tip. Love in particular provided a jolt, canning his first three shots on his way to 13 first-quarter points. And the Cavs must have mainlined Love’s high-post playmaking, as their typically moribund offense recorded an assist on all but one of its 20 first-half field goals. But even so, Seth Curry and Shake Milton shot the Sixers to a two-point lead at the break.
But the juice dried up somewhere along the way, and the offense resumed its regularly scheduled moribundity. And by ‘somewhere along the way,’ I mean ‘at halftime’— after scoring 56 points in the first half, the Cavs only mustered up 17 in the third quarter, and that allowed the Sixers to turn a two-point halftime lead into a half quarter of garbage time.
To be frank, this was a strange game, in which many strange things occurred. Shake Milton almost outscored the Cavs’ starting backcourt by himself ? Ben Simmons scored 5 points on 2-for-11 shooting? Darius Garland finished with six points but 8 assists? Here’s one thing that’s not strange, though: in a 20-point loss, the Cavaliers were outscored by a combined 21 points from the foul line and three-point line. It’s hard to win when you lose the efficiency battle like that.
Up next: The Cavs take their talents to South Beach and play the Miami Heat on Saturday. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.