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2023-24 Season | Game #52 | Sixers @ Cavs | Feb. 12, 2024 | 7:00 p.m.

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Wham with the Right Hand

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The Cavs return home to take on the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time this season. The Cavs beat the Sixers in Philly in overtime in Game #14 without Mitchell and LeVert. Joel Embiid had 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in the losing effort.

Fortunately for the Cavs, Embiid is not available tonight and Mitchell and LeVert have returned. Not a bad trade. This one should not go to overtime.

The Sixers are a tale of two teams this season. With Embiid on the floor they are 26-8, a winning percentage that would put them .009 points behind Boston for the league’s best record. Without Joel they are 5-13, which equates to the league’s fifth worst winning percentage. They don’t exactly go from first to worst when Embiid is out, but pretty close.

For my money Embiid is the MVP, hands down.

Since Embiid stepped down to have knee surgery the Sixers are 2-8. One win was against the 9-43 Wizards by 6 points. The other was by 3 points over the 26-27 Jazz, with Tyrese Maxey scoring 51 points. They lost to sub-.500 teams Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Portland (by 26!). Golden State beat them by 12 and 23. The Sixers are not a good team by any means right now, but they at least showed they can beat an average team when Maxey goes off for 51.

Embiid averaged 35 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.8 blocks so that’s a massive hole to fill. With him out their tallest starter is Paul Reed at 6’9”.

The Sixers are now in 5th place. Compounding their problem is they have played either the 25th or 29th easiest schedule so far (depending on which website you like) and have either the 3rd or 8th most difficult remaining schedule. And Embiid is out indefinitely.

In the last 10 games the Cavs are 1st in the NBA in point differential (+12.3) while the Sixers are 28th (-10.8), so the Cavs have been 23.1 ppg better than Philly since Embiid went down. Over that period the Sixers rank 21st in scoring, 28th in 3-point attempts, 30th and last in 3-point percentage (31.6%), and last in effective field goal percentage.

It’s not just offense; they’re 29th in defensive rating over the last 10 games. The Cavaliers are 1st. On paper this should be no contest. The Cavs are catching them at the perfect time and play them again in 11 days. Both teams played Saturday and were off Sunday.

PG Tyrese Maxey averages 25.7 points and 6.4 assists on 45% from the field and 38% on 3’s. After scoring 51 against Utah in his last four games he was held to 23, 15, 12, and 28. I think teams are focusing their defense on him with Embiid out. Earlier in the season Maxey scored 50 against Indiana and 42 against Houston, so the Cavs can’t let him get going.

The Sixers have a matchup problem with the Cavs. Against Washington on Saturday they started Maxey (6’2”), Buddy Hield (6’4”), Kelly Oubre (6’7”), Tobias Harris (6’8”), and Paul Reed (6’9”, 210 pounds). Reed is listed as a small forward. Basically it was a lineup of two guards, two small forwards, and a power forward. I don’t know how they hope to defend Allen and Mobley.

In two games with the Sixers Buddy Hield is averaging 38 minutes and 21.5 points. He’s taking 18.5 shots per game, 10.5 from deep. He has the ability to knock down a lot of 3’s if he gets into a rhythm.

Harris averages 18 points on 51% from the field and 35% on 3’s. Reed averages 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.

Their bench is mainly Cameron Payne, 6’3”, who also came at the trade deadline and is playing 28 minutes per game, Ricky Council IV, a 6’6” undrafted rookie who had 19 points and 10 rebounds in their last game, and 6’6” KJ Martin, averaging 3.0 points in 10 minutes per game.

The Sixers just signed 37-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry, who was averaging 8.2 points and 4.0 assists in 28 minutes per game with Miami.

SG De’Anthony Melton, averaging 12 points in 29 minutes, is out. So is backup PF Nic Batum, averaging 25 minutes per game and their other backup PF, Robert Covington. It looks like 31-year-old Tobias Harris is the only power forward they have available.

Backup center Mo Bamba is questionable. If Bamba can’t go they have no healthy centers on the roster and only one available player over 6’7” (Reed).

I think the Sixers’ only chance is to bomb away from the outside and hope Maxey, Hield, Oubre, and Payne all get hot while the Cavs have an off night. With the Sixers lack of height it should be tough to score in the paint. The Cavs should be able to get a ton of offensive rebounds given the Sixers glaring lack of size. They should attack the rim and get the ball inside to Mobley and Allen as much as possible.

Bottom line is that this game is between a team that is 2-8 in their last 10 games and playing without the league’s MVP and a team that is 17-1 and playing at home. The Cavs also have the NBA’s best record against sub-.500 teams.
 
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Wow, we really should be able to open up a can of whoop ass against these chumps.
 
In the November overtime win at Philly we were also missing Okoro as well as Mitchell and LeVert. Maxey is the most improved player in the game and a first time all star but Okoro will be a very tough defender for him.

We have to run these guys off the three point line but Maxey is explosive on the drive so we have to be careful not to give him open lanes.

They’re working on integrating all their new players. I doubt Lowry will be ready tonight.

I went to the Nets game in Philly and Brooklyn just wrecked them. They don’t have enough defense for teams that are athletic and / or physical. Allen and Mobley will be extremely difficult for them to stop.

No excuse for not beating the crap out of this depleted team tonight.
 
With Embiid being out for an extended period combined with how bad they've been without him (they needed 51 points from Maxey just to beat a .500 team by 3 points) I can see them continuing to fall in the standings. They are only two games ahead of the Pacers in 6th place. I expect the Sixers will end up as a play-in team and if Embiid is ready to go in April they should easily get the 7th seed and play us in the first round, assuming we hang onto second and don't overtake Boston.

That would be a much tougher scenario than playing somebody like Chicago, Miami, or Atlanta in the first round. I'm hoping Embiid gets back in time to get them into 5th place so after beating the 4th seed they have to play Boston. But there's a long way to go so it's too early to speculate, but with one of the toughest remaining schedules I don't see the Sixers winning many games while Embiid is out.

They're not like the Cavs where if Allen gets hurt we can move Mobley to center and just keep trucking. Embiid is irreplaceable.
 
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This looks like 90%+ chance of victory, with everything in our favor.

I'm not sure the Sixers get Embiid back in time for the playoffs. Nor am I sure they don't drop out of the play-in tourney.

Cavs 129-95
 
We simply need to play our game and this is a win. Their only hope is to shoot and make a high volume of 3’s. If we defend that we will win. And don’t worry about forcing it inside to take advantage of our size. Just take the shots we have been taking. They have no shotblocker so we should finish drives at a high percentage. Their perimeter defense won’t be great, so we should get open looks from 3. And our size should allow our bigs to feast on offensive rebounds as well as our normal inside looks. Come out with defensive intensity and we end this by halftime
 
Picked up some cheap tickets for this one. Should hopefully be a fun one. My new routine is to park at Brewdog across the river, grab some wings and a beer, then walk over to Tower City and use their concourse to get to the stadium.

Brewdog has some great wings by the way.
 
Picked up some cheap tickets for this one. Should hopefully be a fun one. My new routine is to park at Brewdog across the river, grab some wings and a beer, then walk over to Tower City and use their concourse to get to the stadium.

Brewdog has some great wings by the way.
Cool spot.. really wish there would be other development around it though
 
Cool spot.. really wish there would be other development around it though
They have been building what I think is some huge apartment complex on that long winding road leading up to Brewdog. Not sure what else is going in there, but curious to see.
 
With Embiid being out for an extended period combined with how bad they've been without him (they needed 51 points from Maxey just to beat a .500 team by 3 points) I can see them continuing to fall in the standings. They are only two games ahead of the Pacers in 6th place. I expect the Sixers will end up as a play-in team and if Embiid is ready to go in April they should easily get the 7th seed and play us in the first round, assuming we hang onto second and don't overtake Boston.

That would be a much tougher scenario than playing somebody like Chicago, Miami, or Atlanta in the first round. I'm hoping Embiid gets back in time to get them into 5th place so after beating the 4th seed they have to play Boston. But there's a long way to go so it's too early to speculate, but with one of the toughest remaining schedules I don't see the Sixers winning many games while Embiid is out.

They're not like the Cavs were if Allen gets hurt we can move Mobley to center and just keep trucking. Embiid is irreplaceable.
The 76ers are going to make a really good team very sad come April when they are a 7th or 8th seed with a healthy Embid. I hope the Cavs are not that team
 
The 76ers are going to make a really good team very sad come April when they are a 7th or 8th seed with a healthy Embid. I hope the Cavs are not that team

They’re making me sad right now because I have tickets to four more games this season and if the Nets game I saw is any indication the games will suck. One of the games is against the Cavaliers so at least that game won’t suck for me.

But if they do get everyone back I think they’re a tough out.

The issue with Embiid is always conditioning. He should have listened to Shaq and Charles telling him to get his ass in the pool but Joel didn’t do that. Over a seven game series he’s going to tire because I don’t see him having enough time to get into shape before the playoffs start. But when he’s healthy he’s the best and most reliable scorer in the game and does a lot of other things as well.
 
Looks like they wont have many answers for our bigs but I am not taking them lightly when they have two major cavs killers in Maxey and Hield
 
Looks like they wont have many answers for our bigs but I am not taking them lightly when they have two major cavs killers in Maxey and Hield
If wade is out then I'm putting mobley on heild for stretches of the game
 
Mobley on Tobias Harris, who's averaging 18 ppg. I'd rotate Mitchell, Garland, LeVert and Okoro on Maxey. Keep somebody fresh on him.
 

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