Well, a win is a win.
It sure wasn't pretty, but the Sixers took care of business in a 106-99 win over the lowly Cavaliers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Cleveland, fresh off a big win over Toronto, was missing Kevin Love (rest) and Marquese Chriss (suspension). The Sixers were without Jimmy Butler (rest).
The victory moves the Sixers to 43-25 on the season and keeps them ahead of the Pacers and Celtics for the Eastern Conference's third seed.
Here are observations from the win.
• What a weird start to this game. The Sixers were sloppy early, turning the ball over nine times in the first quarter … but they held a 24-12 lead after one.
Unfortunately, the lackadaisical play caught up to the Sixers as the Cavs flipped with the script with a 35-29 second quarter.
The Sixers dominated in every category but the turnover battle, which they lost, 21-7. It's the only reason this was even a game.
• These are the types of teams Ben Simmons feasts on and he did just that. It was good to see Simmons get back to being aggressive and looking for his own shot. He cashed in on a few difficult opportunities around the rim. He was physical at the basket and the Cavs had trouble matching that physicality.
At times, it felt like Simmons was the only one giving the Sixers any life. He finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and just two turnovers. He also continues to hit his free throws, going 7 for 10.
• That 33-point performance against the Pacers Sunday was incredible, but you can tell there’s still a little rust with Joel Embiid. He had four turnovers in the first quarter, six overall. Give some credit to Cleveland’s Ante Zizic, who was able to force a couple of those turnovers. It also looked like JJ Redick and Embiid were having trouble connecting in their normally lethal two-man game. Two dribble handoffs between the duo turned into turnovers.
You could tell Embiid was just trying to feel his way through this one offensively, recording 17 points on 6 of 16 shooting. But his defense sure is a big help as he came down with 19 rebounds and blocked four shots — including a huge one on Zizic with the Cavs trailing by just three with under a minute left.
• The supposed “tournament” between James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons doesn’t appear like it’s very competitive at this point. Ennis got the start in place of Jimmy Butler and he shined.
He was matched up against rookie Collin Sexton, who is lightning quick and has given the Sixers trouble before. Ennis did pick up three fouls in the first quarter, but did a solid job on Sexton overall.
Offensively, his movement away from the basketball stuck out on Tuesday. When you’re surrounded by so much offensive talent, you’re going to get some easy looks. You just have to capitalize and Ennis did so, pouring in 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...an ENNIS DUNK.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 12, 2019
Embiid finds him with a quick pass to cut in for the slam! pic.twitter.com/DJKYKvt1SH
He also continues to show off that "quiet athleticism" Brett Brown has referred to.
OH MY, ENNIS.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 13, 2019
He drops in a big slam and the bench really, really approves. Sixers up a pair. pic.twitter.com/N5bbJUpANa
• Boban Marjanovic made his triumphant return to the court and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Marjanovic, who’s been out since Feb. 25, scored a bucket on his first touch.
Best friends away from the court, Tobias Harris and Marjanovic have a real chemistry on it. Running a pick-and-roll is about timing and chemistry, and both players seem to have an idea of how to navigate it together.
It's called the Tobi and Bobi show for a reason.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 12, 2019
Boban finds Harris for the quick flush as the Sixers hold a slim two point lead. pic.twitter.com/OHCbKhldbP
Marjanovic was matched up against sharpshooting veteran Channing Frye. That’s not an ideal matchup for either player, but Marjanovic was able to get the better of it as Frye was cold from three and Cleveland felt the pain of not having a rim protector.
• Brown after practice Monday alluded to the fact that Redick may be getting a rest night soon. It looks like he may need it. Redick’s shooting woes continued, as he went 6 of 15, although he did go 4 of 7 from three. Coming into the game, Redick was shooting 31 percent from three and 30 percent overall since the All-Star break.
• The Cavs are terrible, but man, Collin Sexton can really play. The rookie point guard, coming off a 28-point performance against the Raptors Monday, scorched the Sixers for 26 points on 11 of 20 from the field. The Sixers have had trouble stopping quicker guards this year and Sexton gave them a hard time tonight.
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