Posted on March 2, 2018, by Travis Pulver
If you are a fan of a team other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, you undoubtedly would love to have LeBron James sign with your team as a free agent this summer. A Philadelphia company made that clear when it put up a series of billboards encouraging James to consider joining the Philadelphia 76ers.
Prior to Thursday night’s game against the 76ers James admitting to liking being wanted by other teams at this point in his career. The 76ers then went on to give him a good reason to sign with them by beating the Cavaliers 108-97.
James had his usual stellar night with 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. But he got next to no help from the rest of his team. Larry Nance Jr. chipped in 13 points off the bench, and Rodney Hood added 11. Jordan Clarkson chipped in ten before getting ejected late in the game for throwing the ball at 76ers forward Dario Saric.
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The rest of Cleveland’s roster chipped in just 33 points.
“Looked like we had some heavy legs tonight,” James said (via Cleveland.com). “We fought back but it’s been a tough stretch for us playing every other day the last four weeks, but we’ve got to figure it out. We still had a chance to win. Couple breakdowns down the stretch didn’t allow that to happen. Give credit where credit is due. I thought Philly played well.”
Philadelphia, on the other hand, had several players turn in good performances. Joel Embiid and Robert Covington each had double-doubles. Embiid recorded 17 points and 14 rebounds while Covington had ten points and ten rebounds.
Dario Saric was a rebound away from a double-double (16 points, nine rebounds). Ben Simmons nearly had a triple-double (18 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists). J.J. Reddick led the team in scoring with 22 points.
“You going to have to some down shooting nights in the NBA,” Redick said (via Philly.com). “But I flushed the last two [games] and keep shooting.”
Philadelphia didn’t have the game in hand until the final minute of the contest. They led by three after the first, 32-29, and maintained that lead heading into halftime with the score 59-56. Heading into the final quarter, the 76ers extended their lead out to six points, 77-71.
In the fourth, the 76ers pushed their advantage out to 11-points early on. However, that lead didn’t last. The Cavaliers were able to stay within a few points for the bulk of the quarter. But a 13-3 run by the 76ers over the final 2:09 sealed the win for Philadelphia.
The win improves the 76ers record to 33-27, which is currently good enough to own the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the loss, the Cavs hold on the No. 3 seed is just a half game over the Washington Wizards.
Philadelphia will try to keep the good times rolling against the Charlotte Hornets Friday night. Cleveland will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.
While the Cavaliers got off to a hot start with their new additions, the last couple of games have not been that great. Their defense is still better than it was, but it is hard to imagine it holding up against the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, or even the Toronto Raptors in a seven-game series.
Offensively, they count on James more than ever. But if no one else has even a decent night, their sunk. They have some excellent players on the roster, but not good enough to make them dangerous contenders.
As for Philadelphia, this team could be really exciting to watch in the playoffs. The talent and ability are certainly there. But can they maintain the level of play necessary to beat a good team in our out of seven tries?
It’s too soon to tell, but they’ll definitely be fun to watch however long they are in the playoffs.