By Connor Thomas
I’m not sure what crime the Mavericks committed, but from the opening tip last night they were on total lockdown at the Ben Simmons State Penitentiary. When they would get a break from Warden Simmons because of good behavior, their parole officer Joel Embiid was just as strict, not allowing them to travel into the paint at all. The Sixers, of course, are not actually putting opponents under lock and key, but they might as well have last night in South Philadelphia. The opening quarter saw the Mavericks shoot 34.8% from the floor, and All-Star Point Guard Luka Doncic held to 3 points, all from the free throw line. The Sixers were cold as well in the 1st, only holding a 23-22 advantage heading into the 2nd quarter, but their two All-Stars would take over in that frame. Embiid poured in 13 in the 2nd as he took advantage of a series of small ball lineups from Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle. Simmons, who continued to play stellar defense, contributed 9 of his own, as Philly pulled away to a 16 point lead at the half. Doncic was able to get 8 more points in the 2nd, but the rest of Dallas’ starting 5 only contributed 3 points as Simmons, Embiid, and company kept the lockdown in effect. The 43 point half for the Mavericks was a result of 37.5% shooting from the floor and only 35.7% from 3 point range.
While the percentages would improve for Dallas in the 3rd, the Sixers continued to outpace the outmatched Mavs 27-25 in the quarter. With an 18 point lead heading into the 4th quarter, Doc Rivers emptied his bench, sitting all 5 starters for the remainder of the game. The Mavericks essentially waved the white flag by sitting their two top scorers – Doncic and Tim Hardaway – for the entirety of the 4th quarter. Dallas’ reserves were able to make up a little ground as the game wound down, but never enough to make the Sixers sweat. Ultimately, the 14 point win was a strong indicator to how one-sided the matchup was from pretty much start to finish. It was a good win for Philadelphia, who is still trying to fend off the streaking Brooklyn Nets from overtaking them as the 1 seed in the East.
With only 3 games remaining prior to the All Star break, the Sixers will do their best to hold on to the top spot through the first half. They moved to 22-11 on the year with the win, while the Mavericks dropped below .500 to 15-16 on the season. The Sixers will be back in action at home on Saturday night as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the 4th worst record in the NBA.