Total domination in the first half by the 76ers allowed them to set the tone early. They sent a message to the Cavaliers with a 27-point lead in the third quarter. But Cleveland wasn’t having any of it in the second half. They battled back to within four late in the fourth. A valiant effort by the Cavs. But Philadelphia picked up the 118-112 win in the final game before the All-Star break. With the win, the Sixers even the season series at 1-1 with both teams winning on their home floor. A little payback from the blowout Cleveland handed them in late November. Philadelphia is now two games in front of the Cavs in the standings and has now won four games in a row overall and are 38-19 on the season.
Here’s what stood out:
- 11 assists on 13 made baskets in the opening quarter for the 76ers. Including six made threes that helped them lead by 14 in the first, 38-24. Philadelphia led by as much as 25 points at halftime.
- Tobias Harris got the first crack defending All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. He did a superb job on him in the first half. Never an easy assignment for anyone, Harris held Mitchell to just eight points on 3 for 11 shooting from the field. The Louisville product turned it up in the second half to help Cleveland fight back as he finished with 33 points. Cavs guard Darius Garland was tough to keep out of the lane as he contributed 27. Evan Mobley added 23.
- Harden had 15 and 9 assists in the first half and was in full control as he ran the team. He finished the night with 19 points, 12 assists, and four rebounds.
- Joel Embiid put together a double-double of 29 points and a game-high 14 boards. Coming into the game, the 6-time All-Star needed just five points to reach 10,000 career points and he eclipsed that number very early in the first. A great career from where things began with the big fella dealing with early injuries.
- The Cavaliers did make a few runs, the biggest coming in the fourth as they cut the lead to 10 fueled by an 11-1 run. Much credit goes to Cleveland for not giving up. But Philadelphia certainly took their foot off the gas, relaxed a little by fouling and turned the ball over at a high rate in the second half. The Cavs will be a tough matchup for anyone in the playoffs.
Philadelphia is in a good spot heading into the All-Star break. They’ll be back on the floor next Thursday at home to host the Memphis Grizzlies.