It wasn’t pretty, but the Sixers pulled it off against the second-place-in-the-east Cavaliers. In a game with no Embiid, Melton, Tobias, Batum, or Covington, expectations weren’t high, but the new-look Sixers pulled off a stunner.

Big Game from New Names

To start, Buddy Hield had a phenomenal game. While he can have cold stretches, he can also get really hot. Tonight was a hot night. He and Kelly Oubre led the team in points with 24 each, while Hield also tallied 8 assists on top of that. In a game with a small rotation against a top-notch defense like the Cavs, Hield did exactly what the Sixers hoped he would when they traded for him. The Sixers want him to space the floor and bear some of the offensive load to help minimize the absence of the reigning MVP.

Six of the 24 points he scored came at clutch times with the fourth quarter winding down. He hit two pull-up threes off the dribble to give the Sixers a quick six points, providing a huge offensive boost when they needed it most down the stretch. Maxey and Hield could prove to be a dynamic duo down the stretch together. With these new additions, the Sixers are more lethal from downtown than they have been in a long time.

Along with Hield, Cameron Payne also played a good game. Not quite as dazzling as Hield’s game, but Payne played solid, meaningful backup PG minutes. He played a clean 24 minutes with 0 turnovers, 15 points, and 4 assists. He took the ball to the basket to draw a few fouls while also shooting a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. His minutes may go down in the future, but this type of production and clean play would help any team with championship hopes.

Other Players Learning to Close Games

It’s no secret that the Sixers historically call Embiid’s name in the closing minutes of games. With Embiid out for the foreseeable future, other players need to step up in clutch time. Hield hit some clutch threes and Oubre also hit an ill-advised pull up three late in the fourth quarter. Like I said earlier, it wasn’t pretty, but they did pull it off. Maxey missed a few shots late which let the game get close, but after a few clutch free throws from Ricky Council and Maxey respectively, they forced the Cavaliers to take a game winning shot where Paul Reed made a huge play to end the game, blocking Donovan Mitchell at the rim.

A Blessing in Disguise?

No matter what, teams have a hard time winning games when their roster gets uprooted. The Sixers just lost a few players that got regular minutes and they haven’t received their full return yet. In addition, they traveled to Cleveland to play a very good team. Not many teams can pull off a game like that at full strength, much less missing half the roster. Hopefully these players can continue to gel and learn to close games in Embiid’s absence so they can have more options when they (hopefully) make a deep run into the playoffs.

 

 

Picture from NBC Sport Philadelphia/Getty Images

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