The Sixers (39-34) visited the Cleveland Cavaliers (44-29) on Friday. Philadelphia wanted to snap a two-game losing streak. Cleveland wanted to rebound from Wednesday's loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Sixers couldn't get enough stops late in a 117-114 loss to the Cavaliers.

Before we get to the game, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure to address a meniscus injury in his left knee. Embiid traveled with the team on its two-game road trip and is participating in practice work on the court. While a timeline for return has not been given, all signs point to him suiting up in the near future.

De'Anthony Melton has bone stress in his lumbar spine and remained out. As did Robert Covington, who has a bone bruise in his left knee.

Terq Smith is on a two-way G League assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats and was not available.

Nick Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Tyrese Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, and Mo Bamba.

The Cavaliers were without the services of Caris LeVert, who has a sore right wrist.

Ty Jerome is recovering from surgery on his right ankle and was out. Craig Porter Jr. missed the game with an illness. Dean Wade has a sprained right knee and was not available.

Pete Nance, Isaiah Mobley, and Emoni Bates are on two-way assignments with Cleveland's G League affiliate and were out.

JB Bickerstaff started Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen.


- It hasn't exactly served as an investment in his assist column due to the lack of offensive creation and shooting around Maxey and the attention he gets as a driver without Embiid around, but no. 0 deserves credit for the strides he's made as a decision-maker against blitzed and hedged ball screen coverages.

Defenses have wisely elected to throw two bodies on him out of the high pick-and-roll while games are competitive, gambling against Bamba and Paul Reed doing anything at all if it means cutting off Maxey's water entirely or doing just enough to take away the star guard's space before booking it back to the rolling big.

The Clippers refused to let Maxey have any space or one-on-one play, and their blitzing resulted in a road victory because the Sixers couldn't cobble together enough offense elsewhere down the stretch (and, of course, had a flurry of unforced miscues in the final 90 seconds of the game). But, that didn't mean Maxey didn't try to read the defense to the best of his ability. His teammates just didn't capitalize.

There were some similarities in this game, but Maxey got a lot more help from his teammates. Still, his assist column was far from robust in the first half, and that underscores the point being made here.

Maxey is making real strides at manipulating that extra ball pressure on screens. The biggest thing we should be pointing to is his patience with the ball. He doesn't panic when two guys surround him, instead backing up to string them out and then finding the open teammate to trigger the four-on-three advantage on the other side of the court.

He wasn't even necessarily the final passer in the best examples of those reads on Friday. There were a handful of possessions in this game in which he started a domino effect by making the first pass to the middle of the floor, and then that teammate making the next pass or putting the ball on the deck to self-provision a score.

Maxey's patience also paid dividends for his own bucket-getting. When Cleveland hedged on ball screens, he waited out the screen defender in anticipation of him recovering back to the rim. When the recovery began, Maxey hit the gas. If he didn't take advantage of his primary defender being out of position, Maxey treated it as a one-on-one opportunity and went to work.

- A couple of guys to spotlight. Lowry had 23 points and six assists. His shooting was massive in the second half and his playmaking off the dribble was maybe the biggest reason the Sixers didn't run dry in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Harris took nine triples en route to 21 points. I've given up on saying "if he would just be that willing to let it fly from deep every night".

14 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks for Bamba. Unbelievable that Lowry signed a contract and Bamba immediately became a lob threat. 12 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks for Reed off the bench. He had a couple of really nice finishes at the rim under the duress of pressure from Allen and Mobley.


- Really bad Oubre game fresh off a fine for his conduct with game officials in the immediate aftermath of the loss to the Clippers. He didn't have his head up on drives, missing a pair of passes in favor of getting his own shot. Certainly looked worse given his brutal shooting in the game. He also jumped right into Sam Merrill on a three to end the first quarter; it didn't look like he had any intention of making a play on the ball and it was an obvious foul.

- Mitchell's shooting and scoring sure didn't terrorize the Sixers much at all in this game. But, he picked them apart as a passer. He exposed their lack of focus in transition, roping gorgeous passes across the floor to advance the ball and slingshot the Cavaliers into transition. The Sixers would've taken those passes away if they had been alert.

- Speaking of passing, Reed made a couple of absolutely dreadful passes against pressure in the first quarter. Free transition chances for Cleveland.

- I thought the biggest reason the Sixers lost the game was attention to minutiae on defense. You could see their communication on screening angles was not good early in the game. Mobley and Allen flipped screens and angles at the last second all game long, an annoyance for a ball defender who is expecting to get hit one way and instead gets run into a back screen because no one calls out the change in direction.

It changed the quality of looks the Cavaliers got with the ball in Garland and Mitchell's hands, going from an isolation against a switch to a downhill push into the paint to open more options for the offense.

- It wasn't just screen communication, though. Navigation was a problem, too. Merrill got an open three off a pump fake and relocation because Cam Payne took a bad angle tracking him as he came off the second screen in a floppy action. No one stayed with Georges Niang in transition on one possession in the first half, and two Sixers got pinned by the screener when the former Sixers forward caught the ball for a catch-and-shoot three on the break.

Those details led to far too many open threes for Cleveland, and they stretched Philadelphia's defense. One problem led to another. Because the Sixers couldn't shrink the floor on defense, the game ultimately came down to Garland and Mobley attacking Bamba in the pick-and-roll.

Philadelphia got the offense it needed to win. The Sixers just couldn't string together enough stops to get the job done on Friday.

The Sixers (39-35) will visit the Toronto Raptors (23-50) on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Check Out Greater Atlantic City, NJ Area Athletes Who Played Games In NFL

Many people are not aware of the number of athletes from the Greater Atlantic City Region who have played in the National Football League. Football players who played at high schools in Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, and Ocean Counties have a strong representation in the NFL over the last few decades.

One of the most difficult accomplishments in sports is to make a Professional Sports Roster and earn the opportunity to play in a game at the highest level of the sport. Check out some of the great South Jersey Athletes who have played in games in the NFL:

Gallery Credit: Joshua Hennig/Townsquare Media

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