Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Cavaliers
The good and bad from Sixers-Cavaliers.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
Looking to win the second game of a South Philadelphia back-to-back, the Sixers welcomed the young and excellent Cleveland Cavaliers to town. Here’s what’s on my mind after the game:
Pro: Joel Embiid, passer plus Matisse Thybulle, cutter
With Ben Simmons away from the team in Brooklyn, Thybulle’s brilliant perimeter defense is as vital to the Sixers’ success as it ever has been.
The defensive end, of course, is where he’ll make himself most valuable. But it’s still imperative that he finds some sort of utility as an offensive player. If Thybulle merely stands around the three-point line without much activity, the Sixers’ offense will take a major hit, and he could be rendered unplayable in certain playoff matchups.
The most realistic path for Thybulle to make himself useful as an offensive player is to become an improved cutter. Defenses often don’t pay him any mind, and making himself available as a cutter can take advantage of that.
Tonight, Thybulle showed his continued improvement on that end, freeing up easy passes for Embiid multiple times early on in the game.
Embiid had an excellent showing in all facets tonight, but his passing stood out most. Whether it was finding Thybulle out of the dunker spot, kicking out to shooters or finding drivers in transition, he showed just how much he has improved as a playmaker since the start of the season.
Pro: Shake Milton in fine form after shaky return
Milton returned to the lineup last night after missing 18 games, but struggled mightily as a scorer, only making one field goal attempt.
Tonight, however, Milton exhibited the kind of added boost he is capable of giving this offense. While he likely won’t be a pure point guard anymore due to the James Harden acquisition, he showed his ability to get to the rim, convert very tough finishes and make impressive passes.
Milton totaled six points, three rebounds and five assists tonight, chipping in for the Sixers in more than one way. I know these aren’t mind-blowing numbers, but it’s a step in the right direction for a player who missed a whole lot of time.
As this new-look roster eventually forms into its new shape, Milton is not the player anyone will focus on. But he is about to go from a role at point guard that he doesn’t quite have the ability to hold down permanently to a role as a secondary ball-handler playing alongside either Harden or Tyrese Maxey that will likely optimize his abilities.
Pro: Joel Embiid’s MVP campaign is as strong as ever
What else can you say about this guy? I have truly run out of words to describe just how dominant Embiid is. His greatness is perhaps unparalleled in the entire universe right now.
Embiid is an elite scorer. He is an excellent rebounder. He has turned from a shaky passer into a player who can control the game with his mind alone. And the crazy part is, he may be even better on defense than he is on offense.
As I write these words, I stand in awe of the greatness that Embiid displays on a nightly basis. Tonight’s showing was one of his best yet, dominating the Cavaliers to the tune of 40 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals in 33 minutes of play.
Embiid is completely unstoppable at this point. And I’m not sure if you heard, but he’s adding one hell of a sidekick very soon.