By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
After a dominant defensive showing against the Mavericks on national television on Thursday, the Sixers would be back in action on Saturday night, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers would lack energy for a majority of this game, and it would result in the matchup going down to the wire.
Joel Embiid would get a chance to win the game for the Sixers at the end of regulation but could not get his shot to go. The Cavs would go on to pick up a 112-109 victory in overtime. Cleveland is now 2-0 on the season against the Sixers.
Here are some takeaways from the Saturday night matchup.
Supporting cast struggles
The Sixers' supporting cast has had its struggles in recent weeks, and it would carry on in this game. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would have good games against the Cavs, but everyone around them would have a tough time scoring.
Outside of the two All-Stars, only one other Sixer would finish this game in double-figures, Shake Milton who racked up 11 points off the bench. It took until about the seven-minute mark in the third quarter for someone outside of Embiid and Simmons to score more than five points. The stars can only do so much when they are getting such minimal production from the players around them.
One player in particular who would have major struggles is Seth Curry. Since returning from Covid, Curry's play has been up and down. Saturday's game against Cleveland was arguably his worst in a Sixer uniform. Curry would finish with just four points on 1-13 shooting from the floor.
The Sixers become much more dynamic when the supporting cast can knock down shots. Hopefully after some much-needed rest over the All-Star break, they can get back to form in the second half of the season.
Missing Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris would miss his first game of the season on Saturday after suffering a knee contusion against the Mavericks. The Sixers would miss him greatly against the Cavaliers, especially on the offensive end.
The Sixers would start slow on offense, and part of it was because of a new starting lineup. With Furkan Korkmaz starting with Curry and Danny Green, they struggled to get their offensive sets going. Not to mention without Harris in the lineup, they lost a pick-and-roll threat and someone who operates a good two man game with Embiid.
Seeing how the offense looked without Harris speaks volumes to the consistency he has brought to the team this year. It showed how crucial he has been to the Sixers' success in the first half of the season and might enhance his case for being an All-Star snub.
Simmons and Embiid leading the charge
With the supporting cast struggling the way they did, it was on Simmons and Embiid to carry this team to the finish line. The All-Star duo would do just that, both would dominate the Cavs in an attempt to steal this game.
Simmons would start this game getting downhill and putting pressure on the Cavs in transition. He would then switch to working in the post, a part of his game that has continued to grow this season. By the end of the game, Simmons would have 24 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.
Embiid has had some minor struggles in recent games, but he would get back to his dominant self against the Cavs. The MVP favorite would erupt for 42 points and come down with 13 rebounds. On top of his huge scoring outburst, he would also dish six assists.
Although it resulted in a loss, it was good to see Simmons and Embiid dominate together. This team is only going to go as far as they can take them, so seeing them continue to figure out how to put up big showings in the same game is a major positive.
Playing down to an opponent
This has been a bad habit for the Sixers for multiple years now. They continue to drop games against teams that they should not.
Looking at this game, there was no reason for the Sixers to drop this game. At home against a struggling team who was missing multiple players should have been an easy win to keep the momentum going. But sleepwalking through the first half resulted in the Cavs being able to swing the game in their favor.
The Cavaliers are not a good team this season, and they should not be 2-0 against the Sixers, who have finals aspirations. Now although it is not something to go rushing for the panic button for, it is something to monitor. If the Sixers want to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference, they cannot have these lapses and drop unnecessary games like this.