The Sixers (39-33) hosted the Los Angeles Clippers (44-27) on Wednesday. Philadelphia wanted to rebound from Monday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. Los Angeles wanted to snap a two-game losing streak. Despite Tyrese Maxey's best efforts, late-game execution proved costly for the Sixers in a 108-107 loss to the Clippers.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

All Clippers were available in this game.

Ty Lue started James Harden, Terance Mann, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Ivica Zubac.

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure to address a meniscus injury in his left knee.

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, Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, and Mo Bamba.


- Clippers believers will reason that the team has seen enough good moments in this regular season to go on autopilot until the playoffs. Keep the three heads of the dragon as healthy as possible and turn it on when the games start to really matter. But, at some point, you also have to prove that you have the right mental makeup to be trusted when things get challenging.

You would think that the Clippers, having been punched in the face in their own building by this same team just a few days ago, would come out with more fire in their visit to Philadelphia. Just have pride, just practice good habits. Their talent is robust enough to blow this version of the Sixers off the court if they just play the game with some respect.

Quite the contrary; the first half was a mirror image of the first half of Sunday's game in Los Angeles. The Clippers did not care on either end of the floor, and Philadelphia merely took advantage. You could see the lack of interest in the way Leonard defended, going for a light jog to get up the court when the Sixers got out on the break. You could see it in the way Bamba actually attacked inside. Zubac offered almost no resistance, getting beat to rebounds in the paint and not fighting back when Bamba tried to bump him off his spot at the rim.

As much as having to account for George, Leonard, and Harden at all times can be taxing, playing against the Clippers is probably rather fun in an unusual way. The Sixers got to conserve energy because it takes Los Angeles at least 10 seconds to get into anything on offense. They're heavy on switching, which is somewhat ironic given how little resistance they offer on defense. So, regardless of whether the Sixers were in transition or battling in the halfcourt, they were basically tasked with scoring against traffic cones as their primary defenders.

All of that is to say, they got to rest while playing the game. Take a couple deep breaths while the Clippers eat away at half their shot clock, get after it long enough to finish the possession, and then cut through that butter with a slightly warm knife. The cycle repeats.

The Sixers didn't just take advantage of the Clippers' lack of urgency; they also executed against their mistakes. The best example of that, and the best summary of the first quarter, was Nico Batum checking into the game, immediately running a pick-and-pop with Maxey, lacing a wide-open three on the kick-back pass because Zubac messed up the coverage, and Mann slamming the ball in disgust. Even when the Clippers kind of sort of maybe tried, they weren't aligned in their effort, and it resulted in mistakes for the Sixers to pick on.

- By contrast, you could tell the Sixers were far more focused and attentive to details by how they made sure to find Maxey every time there was a transition opportunity. Misses, live-ball turnovers, it didn't matter. They recognized that they could slingshot their offense ahead of the Clippers' defense by finding him quickly. It was by no means the most explosive night of scoring for Maxey. But, he pushed the pace - something that makes the Clippers totally uncomfortable.

- Bamba was one of the most important factors on Philadelphia's side to withstand the test of time when the second half began. Normally maligned for playing with very little energy and strength, Bamba outworked the Clippers in all the ways a big man traditionally does. He fought off rebounders, securing the glass for Philadelphia. He emerged from the weak side to bother drivers and alter shots at the rim, timing his rotations to the rim well to bait the attempt and then enter the picture only after they'd committed to going all the way. Bamba clearly felt energized by his play on defense, bringing the dirty work to the offensive side. He cleaned up a teammate's miss, swooping into frame to jam the ball back after the first attempt cleared the rim.

His teammates wisely recognized his effort on defense with some extra looks on offense, Lowry making the lob to Bamba as he rolled through space to connect on a one-handed dunk while the Clippers were asleep on defense. Maxey even hit him on soft rolls to the foul line, setting him up for rhythm catch-and-shoot jumpers out of screens.


- It was one of Hield's better games in quite some time, but an angel loses its wings every time he puts the ball on the floor.

- The Clippers wisely began to blitz Maxey on ball screens in the second half, and he did his best to string out the two guys in his face before making passes to the back side and putting the four-on-three advantage into motion.

But, if you're the Sixers and you can't get much going on offense, your best course of action might be to catch and immediately go back to Maxey to reverse the play. Sure, it's probably going to end up in another blitz. But, if you make that second connection with Maxey quickly enough, you can slip into open space and give him a partner to pass to. And if the Clippers make that rotation with a defender who isn't involved in the blitz, it means someone else is wide the hell open elsewhere on the court.

The Sixers (39-34) will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (44-29) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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