Instant Observations: 76ers Use Balanced Effort Led by Harris, Maxey to Beat Mavericks

Instant Observations: 76ers Use Balanced Effort Led by Harris, Maxey to Beat Mavericks Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-25) survived a late run by the Dallas Mavericks (34-27), defeating them 120-116 on Sunday afternoon at the American Airlines Center.

Tobias Harris led the way for the Sixers, scoring 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go with five rebounds. Tyrese Maxey totaled 24 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 21 points off the bench.

Joel Embiid (left knee meniscus procedure), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine bone stress) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) remained out of the lineup for the Sixers. Cam Payne was a late scratch due to an illness.

Luka Doncic finished with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Mavericks. Kyrie Irving totaled 28 points, five rebounds and four assists.

The Sixers’ next contest is a road matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Mavericks:

– Maxey grew up in Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and he compiled quite a performance in a return to his hometown. He got off to an incredible start, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first quarter alone. The Sixers fell behind 11-0 to start the game, but Maxey’s excellent play helped them dig out of that early hole. The Mavericks had no answer for Maxey’s ability to change speeds while attacking off the dribble. He victimized multiple Dallas defenders, including Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford, on drives to the basket. His floater game was on point against the Mavericks, which is a lethal combination when paired with his ability to change speeds.

Part of what makes Maxey difficult to defend is his mixture of speed, finishing ability and outside shooting. His 3-point efficiency has been lower than usual this season, but he still is a threat from beyond the arc. He put Dante Exam on skates in the first quarter before knocking down a beautiful step-back 3-pointer.

The Mavericks adjusted their defense after Maxey’s terrific first quarter. They threw double teams at him on nearly every possession, forcing the ball out of his hands. Fortunately the Sixers had others step up enough to keep the offense humming.

Maxey briefly left the game after scary fall where he hit his head on Derrick Jones Jr.’s leg. He was assessed by the Mavericks’ doctors and returned to the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

– Harris rightly received a ton of criticism for his play over the past few weeks. However, he has turned it around over the past two games. He followed up a 31-point performance in the win over the Charlotte Hornets with another big game, this time against the Mavericks. When he makes quick decisions with the basketball, Harris has the ability to be a major contributor for the Sixers. Sequences like the one below where he knocks down a pair of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers need to happen much more often.

The results have clearly been better for Harris over the past two games. However, his decision making has been much improved, regardless of the overall results. There was a play in the third quarter where he received the ball in the post and the Mavericks sent over a double team. He calmly read the floor, dropped a pass to a cutting Buddy Hield who then made the extra pass to Kyle Lowry for an open 3-pointer.

Harris finished off another strong game against the Mavericks by knocking down a couple crucial buckets in the final minutes. With the Sixers trying to nurse a five-point lead, Oubre drove the basket and found Harris open in the corner. Harris proceeded to drill the 3-pointer. A few possessions later, Harris got around a P.J. Washington closeout and made a floater over Doncic to help seal the win.

– For much of the game, it looked like Oubre was well on pace to have another poor game. He continued to launch up 3-pointers despite none of them going in. Heading into this contest, Oubre is shooting 22.1% from beyond the arc over his last 23 games.

However, Oubre flipped a switch late in the third quarter beginning when Maxey briefly left the game. Oubre carried the Sixers’ offense, attacking the basket with force and collapsing Dallas’ defense. He very easily could have continued to jack up more ill-advised jumpers. However, he instead adjusted and found great success finishing around the rim. Oubre scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, and the Sixers needed every one of them to grab the win over the Mavericks.

– Reed might struggle playing extended minutes as a starter, but he is perfectly capable of producing in a backup role. Head coach Nick Nurse moved Reed to the bench for the second consecutive game, and the results have been strong. Reed was effective on both ends of the floor. Most of his production offensively came on shots around the rim, something he has improved on greatly from prior seasons. On the other end of the floor, he played with active hands and helped make things difficult for the Mavericks offense. He finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Bringing Reed off the bench is the right move, even if it means having to start Mo Bamba until Embiid returns to the lineup.

– It is a joy to watch the Sixers have not one but two different high-IQ players on the roster. On a night where Lowry shot just 1 of 9, he still impacted the game through his ability to run the offense. His connective passing and ability to read the floor add a new layer to the Sixers’ offense. Lowry dished out seven assists while committing zero turnovers against Dallas.

In addition to Lowry, Nic Batum also adds a lot to the roster through his smart play and ability to fill up the box score. He finished with seven points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in 31 minutes off the bench. While he is in the midst of a rough patch as a shooter, he often still finds ways to impact the game.

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