Instant Observations: 76ers’ Cold Stretch Continues With Loss to Mavericks

Instant Observations: 76ers’ Cold Stretch Continues With Loss to Mavericks Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The heavily shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers (30-19) fell 118-102 to the Dallas Mavericks (27-23) on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tobias Harris finished with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and six rebounds. Tyrese Maxey finished with 15 points, two rebounds and seven assists.

Joel Embiid (left knee meniscus injury), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response), Nic Batum (left hamstring strain) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) remained out for the Sixers.

The Mavericks were led in the win by Kyrie Irving, who finished with 23 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block. Luka Doncic totaled 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Josh Green added 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Dallas was without Derek Lively II (nasal fracture) and Dante Exum (right knee bursitis).

The Sixers’ next contest is a home matchup against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Mavericks:

– With Embiid set to miss an extended period of time, Harris is going to have to step into a larger role in the offense. After missing the last game due to an illness, he returned to the lineup and filled up the stat sheet. He scored with efficiency, with most of his damage coming from the mid-range. The Sixers looked to get him posted up against smaller defenders, and that worked for a large portion of the night. While he had an efficient night, he took only one shot from beyond the arc. That is not a recipe for consistent success, especially for someone who is capable of knocking down 3-pointers at a near-40% clip. In addition to his work as a scorer, he also made the right plays setting up others. It was good to see him make a strong impact as a playmaker.

– While Harris had a solid night, Maxey struggled to get much going against the Mavericks. He got off to a fast start, scoring seven points on 3-of-3 shooting. However, he was forced to the bench after picking up his third foul with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter. Upon returning to the game in the second quarter, Maxey could not get into any sort of a rhythm. The 3-pointer was not falling, and he could not find any open space as a driver.

This game will likely prove to be an example of the types of defenses Maxey is going to face with Embiid out of the lineup. Dallas made sure to not give Maxey any breathing room. They were content to leave others open and not let Maxey beat them. Despite the Mavericks consistently preventing Maxey from having a clear path to the paint, he still kept forcing the issue. The 23-year-old guard had no answer to Dallas’ defensive strategy. With Embiid out of the lineup, the Sixers will need much better play from Maxey going forward.

– Maxey got into early foul trouble, but the Sixers were able to weather him going to the bench. Oubre played a large role in helping keep the Sixers afloat early on. He scored nine points in the first quarter in addition to playing solid defense on Irving. However, his impact gradually lessened as the game wore on. After getting off to a hot start, he struggled to score with any efficiency. Despite his inefficiency at times, the Sixers will have to heavily rely on him for however long Embiid remains out of the lineup.

– At this point, it is quickly becoming clear Jaden Springer needs to have a consistent role in the rotation. He is capable of putting together stretches of incredible defense, and they seem to be happening on a more consistent basis. The 21-year old played lockdown defense against Doncic, one of the NBA’s elite perimeter players. While he stands at just 6-foot-4, Springer has deceptive strength. He played tight defense on Doncic, getting in his space and preventing him from being able to get momentum going downhill towards the basket. Springer recorded three steals in the first half alone, including the impressive play below.

Springer also made a solid impact offensively off the bench. He knocked down a few mid-range shots, including a floater over the contest from Maxi Kleber. On another play, he made a nice pass to set up Oubre for a dunk. Springer showed some flashes offfensively against the Mavericks. However, he still very much remains a work in progress on that end of the floor. If he can ever develop an effective catch-and-shoot jumper, he would be an immensely useful player. Even without the offense, Springer’s defense should warrant seeing time on the floor.

– Adding another capable center needs to be the Sixers’ top priority at the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Paul Reed failed to make any positive impact against the Mavericks, finishing with just two points and six rebounds in 22 minutes. Mo Bamba’s performance was far better, totaling five points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. However, Bamba still struggled defensively and his offensive production is inconsistent. The Sixers need to receive consistent production from the center position, and there are major questions about whether Reed and Bamba are capable of that.

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