Cleveland Cavaliers 102
Philadelphia 76ers 101
The 76ers came in fighting to add a one to their win column, and in the end, fell one point short. Joel Embiid led the team with 22 points and four blocks and in the process nearly completed the upset. The Cavaliers were able to hold the 76ers off with strong shooting from their bench, a solid game from Kevin Love, and two key defensive plays by Kyrie Irving.
The 76ers were without top pick Ben Simmons, versatile center Nerlens Noel, and veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless. It was on the back of Joel Embiid’s big night (including 4-4 from three) and a 21-point night from newly acquired Ersan Illyasova (4-6 from three) that let the 76ers stay in the game.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving shot a combined 12-40 from the field, and added nine combined turnovers, but were able to contribute in other ways. LeBron’s 14 assists allowed the bench to shoot 50 percent on 16 three-point attempts. Kyrie took a late charge and forced another turnover in crunch time that helped seal the game.
Let’s look at some numbers:
10 – LeBron James’ place in the All-Time scoring list. He passed Hakeem Olajuwon in the first quarter. When asked about not letting James stay in the game against Boston on Thursday night with the achieve the milestone, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said “I hope he gets at least two points on Saturday.” He was right.
8 – The combined number of three pointers between Joel Embiid and Ersan Illyasova. That’s just crazy.
11 and 9 – Kevin Love’s halftime stat line. Kevin Love was able to spend an entire offseason working out instead of rehabbing, and it’s showing on the court. He’s moving well and forcing defenses to make terrible decisions.
39 – Minutes played by LeBron James tonight. An undermanned 76ers team would hopefully be the perfect opportunity to get the starters rest and the end of the bench some minutes.
Fun – OK, that one may not be a number, but that’s what Joel Embiid’s stat line should read. He wasn’t just putting up numbers, he was flying around the court trying for chase-down dunks and launching threes. He’s a blast. There was a play in the first-half where Kevin Love went for a dunk and Embiid flew in out of control for a hard (should-be) foul, but as he learns his way around an NBA court, he’ll be a joy to watch.
The Cavaliers play the revamped Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. They may be a nice diversion from what will be broadcasting on the networks that night.