Coming off a heartbreaking defeat last night, the Dallas Mavericks fell again, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers, 113-95. Joel Embiid scored 36 points, 7 rebounds while making 14 out of 15 free throws in only three quarters of play in an absolutely tremendous performance. Luka Doncic posted 32 points while shooting 50% from the field.
The first half consisted of great basketball from the two stars of this game. Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid both had over 20 points in the first half. Luka didn’t let the length of Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris bother him as he attacked the rim with force and made the right play often kicking out to teammates who couldn’t finish.
While the Mavericks struggled on offense, the 76ers allowed Embiid to become the reincarnation of 1994 Hakeem Olajuwon. The 76ers milked posting Joel up on the right block or pick and pop every time down the floor making sure he touched the ball at least once each possession.
In a game without 7’3” Kristaps Porzingis to guard the paint, the 76ers dominated early on and never looked back. Embiid single handily showed why he was the front runner in the MVP race before his injury, as no other starter on his team scored over 10 points. Early in the third quarter, the 76ers went on a 10-0 run to put them at a 22 point lead and the game was basically over. Dallas played it’s entire roster in an effort to just make it through the game healthy.
The Mavs are now 4-7 on the second night of back to backs and are two games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the sixth seed. If we want to move past the devastating losses and take advantage of a very winnable schedule coming up, here are three observations from this game that have to change going forward.
Dallas must get Better play from their big men
Joel Embiid made the Maverick bigs look like rec league players and not professionals tonight. Maki Kleber, who started at center, picked up two fouls in less than two minutes. Kleber had three fouls in the first half and Dallas ended up playing all four available bigs. The five Maverick big men scored just eight points in total and combined for 11 fouls. This will not cut it against the elite teams in the NBA.
Porzingis didn’t play today due to injury recovery and his presence on defense was missed but in the playoffs, if Dallas matches up in the first round against Nikola Jokić, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, or even DeAndre Ayton, or even in the play-In tournament against Zion Williamson, they have to do a better job defending the paint overall and keeping the opposing team honest on offense to open up space for Luka to penetrate to the basket.
When the three ball doesn’t fall, they stall
The Mavericks have the 17th best 3-point percentage in the league at 36% while shooting the fifth most attempts and today was another one of those games that reminded everyone why they must be more consistent. The Mavericks were just 9-34 from the three and that included one of the ugliest air-balls of Luka’s career in the third quarter that caused him to pout and led to the game getting blown wide open by the Sixers.
Lost in today’s atrocious game is the debut of JJ Redick. Along with a much-needed veteran presence, if he’s able to make the three consistently. he could be a vocal leader missing in the locker room. He could well play more minutes as the season progresses.
Three Players cannot have one made field goal throughout an entire half!
After the first quarter, only three Mavs Players had made one field goal: Luka, Dorian and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Jalen Brunson said it best post-game, when asked how can the Mavs end their two game losing streak, “Play better defense and play better offense.”
If Mavs fans want to consider Jalen Brunson the sixth man of the year and believe Josh Richardson is a quality starter, they have to provide better contributions. Otherwise the Mavericks might end up in the play in tournament.
Bonus: Boban and Tobias Harris Reunion!
It’s safe to say that Tobias Harris and Boban Bromance was the only positive sight for Mavs fans to see. The short hugging exchange and Goldfish commercial was heartfelt and made me wish I had a 7’4 Serbian Best-Friend!
Bobi & Tobi's friendship = ♥️ pic.twitter.com/qR1lJWGmqH— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2021
I’m a professional on set. @BobanMarjanovic on the other hand... #GoForTheHandful #GoldfishPartners @GoldfishSmiles pic.twitter.com/Wqkdar4xaU— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) April 12, 2021