Player grades: James Harden, Sixers hold off furious Cavs rally in win
PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers had one final test on Wednesday before heading off into the All-Star break as they played host to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs entered the contest winners of seven in a row and they have been playing some excellent basketball on the season overall.
The Sixers came out with their hair on fire in the first quarter as they led by as many as 21 in the opening frame, which led to a lead as large as 28 on the night, and they were dominant on both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers cut the deficit to single digits in the fourth, but eventually, Philadelphia was able to walk away with a 118-112 victory with James Harden scoring 19 points with 12 assists.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 29 points and 14 rebounds with five assists, Tobias Harris added 13 points, De’Anthony Melton added 17, and PJ Tucker had 10 points. Tyrese Maxey chipped in with 16 points off the bench.
Here are the player grades following their fourth straight win:
James Harden: A+
The Beard was magnificent from the jump in this one. He had eight points and eight assists in the opening quarter as Philadelphia opened up a large lead over the Cavaliers. He was getting into the paint, drawing in defenders, and he was able to get his teammates involved. When Harden is going like this, then the Sixers are extremely tough to stop.
De’Anthony Melton: A
As part of the Sixers getting off to a hot start in this one and being able to sustain it, Melton was able to knock down a triple and then give the team a solid effort on the defensive end. He made some big shots in the second half as well as Philadelphia was able to keep things going in a positive direction. He has been a big addition to this team on the floor and he will have to keep up this level of play when the playoffs begin in April.
Tobias Harris: A-
As the Sixers opened up a 21-point lead in the first quarter, Harris was terrific in that run. He was excellent in defending Cavs star Donovan Mitchell while also knocking down a couple of triples and getting to his spots on the offensive end. He didn’t score much in the second half, but Harris was able to really make his mark in this one on the defensive end. Philadelphia needed it in this one.
PJ Tucker: A+
PJ Tucker did PJ Tucker things in this one. He was terrific on the defensive end, he was helpful on the offensive end as he knocked down a corner triple and then he tipped in a miss. Considering the Sixers might see this Cavaliers team in the playoffs, this was a nice little preview of what Tucker can do to help the Sixers succeed against a legitimate team.
Joel Embiid: A
The big fella started his night off by working both Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in the paint. He was able to score in so many ways. Whether it was in the post, the mid-range, getting to the free-throw line, wherever it was, Embiid was scoring at will. He also seemed to be more engaged in this one defensively than he has in previous contests. Maybe because of the step up in competition, but the Sixers need this defensive effort from Embiid more often.
Tyrese Maxey: B+
Hopping off the bench, Maxey pumped in some points quickly by setting an aggressive tone. He got to the free-throw line and he knocked down a triple in his initial run. Overall, he had a nice night offensively, but he didn’t shoot the ball too well. The Cavs are another one of those really long, athletic defensive teams that can give him trouble at times.
Jalen McDaniels: C+
It was a bit of a struggle on the offensive end for McDaniels that wasn’t shown in his first two games with the franchise, but he was helpful on defense. Cleveland has a lot of athletic perimeter players who can score at a high clip and he did a good job corralling them in his minutes. He did have trouble defending Mitchell in the second half when he got called for some quick fouls.
Georges Niang: C-
The Minivan had a mixed bag in his initial run for the Sixers. He picked up a couple of cheap fouls, but he also was helpful on offense when he had a nice drive to the rim which offset him missing a triple. Overall, it wasn’t the greatest night for Niang on a night when the Sixers needed more from him.
Paul Reed: A-
The initial run for Reed was terrific. He was active on the defensive end, he was helpful on the glass, and he chased down a McDaniels miss for a put back slam. If the Sixers can get this type of performance from Reed on a regular basis, it would be tremendous for this team in the long run.
Shake Milton: C-
The initial run for Milton was underwhelming. He wasn’t able to get the easy looks he was getting on offense to fall and he wasn’t able to add much on defense either. He did knock down a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to help Philadelphia keep the momentum.
Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire
Source: Yahoo Sports