If ever a team needed a laugher, it was the Sixers.
After dropping five straight road games, they took their frustrations out on the Cavaliers in a 114-95 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday.
It’s the Sixers’ first victory away from home since their thrilling win in Portland on Nov. 2. They improve to 8-5 on the young season. They’re back at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday to take on the Knicks (7 p.m./NBCSP)
Here are observations from the win.
That’s how you get right
The first few possessions were not great for the Sixers defensively. It looked like another game that could be doomed by poor pick-and-roll defense and turnovers — a familiar theme throughout the young season.
Boy, did that change in a hurry.
The Sixers got a nice defensive boost from James Ennis, ending the first quarter on a 17-4 run and assisting on 12 of their first 15 makes. They played smothering defense and turned that into easy offense.
It was by far the Sixers’ best half of the season as they shot 68.3 percent from the field, committed just five turnovers and outscored the Cavs, 68-44.
The most encouraging thing is that they didn’t let up. They kept their foot on the gas and never let Cleveland back in the game.
This is what it was supposed to look like
The Sixers had lost five of their last seven, which exacerbated the issues of the starting five. On Sunday, they looked like a well-oiled machine. We saw the “bully ball” offense out in full force. With their size, the Sixers are going to have mismatches pretty much every night. It was a clear emphasis against the Cavs.
You saw Ben Simmons find Josh Richardson for a wide open three out of the post. Tobias Harris got doubled in the post and found Joel Embiid for an easy bucket. Al Horford ran the pick-and-pop with Simmons for a short jumper.
No, Cleveland is not a defensive juggernaut, but this was the most encouraging offensive showing by the starters this season. At times, their ball movement was unreal. Now it’s about taking this performance into their next game.
It’s worth noting that Harris appears to be off the schneid as he stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 27 points (12 of 14), five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
When Jo and Ben are at their best …
For those screaming that Embiid needs to be in the post, this had to be refreshing. There’s no secret to it. Brett Brown didn’t make any crazy adjustments. It boils down to Embiid running rim to rim instead of three-point line to three-point line. He got down the floor and got early position for easy post ups. He screened and rolled hard to the rim as well, which makes a huge difference. He was his dominant self Sunday, but more importantly, he played just a little over 22 minutes.
Though as mentioned it was against the Cavs, it’s always encouraging to see both Embiid and Simmons get going in the same game. Cedi Osman was no match for Simmons. Simmons took him off the dribble and punished him in the post. Simmons also continues to be strong defensively. He looks more engaged this season and well on his way to earning some type of All-Defensive Team honors.
He finished with 10 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in just under 26 minutes.
Boost from the bench
The Sixers got just 11 points from their bench Friday in Oklahoma City. The reserves had 20 at the half Sunday.
Ennis was a huge part of that. He hit a trio of corner threes and was active defensively and on the glass throughout. Ennis has given the Sixers solid run his last three games. He had a season-high 14 points.
It’s clear that Furkan Korkmaz has cooled from his torrid pace, but it was good to see the Turkish wing put the ball on the floor and make a couple plays for 13 points. Rookie Matisse Thybulle was good in his first-half run, hitting a three and finishing on a rare drive. Trey Burke got the backup point guard minutes over Raul Neto.
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