Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback falls short in the endgame
The Cleveland Cavaliers came very close to knocking down the Philadelphia 76ers at home but came just short to lose, 118-114. Despite a fiery run in the third quarter, the Cavs fail to close out with a win in the second leg of a five-game homestand.
It was not always as close as the final tally suggests, however. With the Sixers erecting a lead that ballooned to as much as 17 at one point, the resilient Cavaliers squad raced back to outscore the visitors in the third quarter to take their first lead of the match.
Unfortunately, it was the star-laden Sixers–with four players each finishing with 19 points or more–that made the difference in a nip-and-tuck battle in the final period.
Cavaliers All-Star Darius Garland still led the team in scoring with 22 points to go with seven assists but still struggled with his shot, shooting just 5-for-15 from the field. Rising star Isaac Okoro continued to step up and fill some scoring void to chip in with 17 markers of his own.
Cavs remain in danger of falling into play-in territory
NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunner Evan Mobley, as well as Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love, will need to continue sharing a heavier load on both ends of the floor in the absence of frontcourt partner Jarrett Allen. The trio combined for 40 points and 20 boards but was still outmatched in the paint by Joel Embiid and the Sixers frontcourt.
The Sixer superstar, who coincidentally celebrated his 28th birthday, torched the Cavs for 35 points, and 17 boards. Fellow All-Star James Harden (21 points, 11 assists) also ran circles around Cleveland as the duo compiled 18 free throws in the win.
Cleveland, who has fielded 25 different starting lineups owing to injuries and illnesses, needs to find a way to get back into a rhythm during this five-game stretch at home.
Following the loss, the team drops to 39-30, with a surging Toronto Raptors team, winners of their last five assignments, now compiling an identical record. The Cavs maintain the hold in sixth place due to a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Canadian club.
A few victories in the next three home games would be key for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ quest to secure their first playoff spot in four years. Another acid test against an equally formidable Denver Nuggets team is next on the calendar on March 18.