76ers eye standings as energized Cavaliers come to town
With All-Star center Joel Embiid back in the game, the Philadelphia 76ers will look for their second straight win when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
The Sixers dispatched the visiting Indiana Pacers 106-89 on Sunday while also moving into the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Philadelphia received a major boost with the return of Embiid, who scored 33 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 49th double-double.
Embiid had missed the previous eight games with soreness in his left knee.
"He is a difference maker in all ways, shapes and forms," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "The first thing you talk about is stuff at the rim. That's what I felt the most pain when we didn't have him, was just the rim protection."
Tobias Harris scored 16 points and Ben Simmons added 15 as the Sixers moved up the playoff ladder in the East. It was also the 46th time this season that Harris knocked down multiple 3-pointers in the same game.
As the regular season winds down, jockeying for playoff position and home court will be crucial.
"I can feel that they sense that it's getting to be go time," Brown said. "For the past, I don't know, five games, four games, every time we come in that locker room, I have a number on the board, and tonight on the video screen, they looked up and it said 16. The next game, it's going to say 15, and it's going to walk down. We're on the clock and I think that the sense of urgency and awareness is what we are getting close to."
The Sixers have won three of the last four meetings against the Cavaliers.
Cleveland pulled a stunner with a 126-101 home victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
Rookie Collin Sexton scored 28 points and Cedi Osman added 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Ante Zizic scored 17 points, and Kevin Love finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.
But it was Sexton who set the tone and played arguably his best game all season.
"I really thought tonight was probably as complete of a game as I've seen Collin play," Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew told reporters of Sexton.
Love has yet to play in games on back-to-back nights since returning from foot surgery. It's unclear whether will be officially out against the Sixers.
Meanwhile, forward Larry Nance Jr. missed the game against the Raptors with a bruised rib. Nance is questionable for the second leg of the back-to-back.
The Cavaliers held a slim four-point lead at halftime before blitzing the Raptors in the second half. Cleveland is 5-4 since the All-Star break, and seemed to be energized following an altercation on Monday.
Cleveland's Marquese Chriss and Toronto's Serge Ibaka were both ejected for fighting late in the third quarter.
In the end, the Cavaliers placed six players in double figures in the surprising 25-point victory over one of the elite teams in the league.
"Entire team effort," Sexton told reporters. "The game is starting to slow down."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 12, 2019