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November 07, 2015

Cavs 108, Sixers 102: Positive signs, but LeBron too much again

Sixers NBA

For the second time in five days, the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-1) used a big third quarter (32-23 margin) to dig out of a halftime deficit against the young and winless Philadelphia 76ers (0-5). This time, Cleveland won by a 108-102 margin. LeBron James was his usual magnificent self, scoring 31 points and dishing out 13 assists in the win.

All in all, I think this was another decent showing by the Sixers. And if you are gambling on them, you’re both a degenerate and pleased they have covered the spread all three times this week. Here’s what I saw:

•    Just like on Monday night against Cleveland, the Sixers lost this game coming out of the locker room after halftime. Holding a 50-49 edge at halftime, they ran sloppy offense (three turnovers in a 3:38 span) and allowed a 16-2 run by Cleveland.

•    That stretch propelled James into God Mode. The King started hitting jumpers (which, like, there’s nothing you can really do) in that third quarter. He finished with 18 points in the period.

•    Nerlens Noel was all over the place defensively (5 steals, 2 blocks, 9 defensive boards) and had his moments going at Kevin Love in the post, but he still missed a lot of easy shots around the rim. He finished 9-18 from the field for 18 points. Like the team, he can take a lot of positives from this one.

•    For example, this block on LeBron. You come at the king, you best not miss (and Nerlens didn’t):

•    Jahlil Okafor’s defensive effort was reminiscent of the rookie’s performance on that end of the floor at Duke. That’s not a good thing. Whether it was missed rotations or failing to box out on defensive glass, Okafor didn’t really bring it tonight.

•    I didn’t love Okafor’s offense either, but here is the silver lining: Even in a bad game, he went for 18 points (8-17 shooting), 6, and 3 nice dimes. Cleveland defenders, clearly remembering Monday night’s performance, were flailing and flopping early on.

•    The Sixers have elected to play a more conservative pick-and-roll scheme this year, which is smart because it generally concedes mid-range jumpers. In general, those are the types of shots that you want to surrender. Problem is, Mo Williams (16 points, 8-12 shooting) feasts from that spot when he’s open.

•    Let’s go rapid fire with the point guards. T.J. McConnell – Struggled more than usual, but had his moments. Phil Pressey – Not good, not much of a shooter. Isaiah Canaan – Made shots and looked point pretty guard-y in small bursts.

•    Hot Sauce was on display in Cleveland. Nik Stauskas found himself matched up against Richard Jefferson and Jared Cunningham often, and he took him off the dribble for baskets multiple times. Stauskas had 14 points on 6-10 shooting.

•    Stauskas had some trouble in defensive rotations, but a major part of that is Cleveland. Frankly, they’re pretty good. The Cavs came into the game ranked 7th in offense, but that should improve as the season moves along. LeBron in the post, Mozgov rolling to the rim, and a whole fleet of shooters is not an easy group to stop.

Up next

After making a short flight home, the Sixers will be right back at it. Saturday night at “The Center,” they will take on the young and athletic Orlando Magic (2-4) on the second half of the back-to-back. The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann