Even if All-Star Joel Embiid sits out, the Philadelphia 76ers are capable of winning on most nights.
The Sixers proved that on Wednesday in Miami, and they might need to repeat the feat on Thursday when they face the Dallas Mavericks in the second leg of a five-game road trip.
Embiid’s status was unclear for Thursday, though the Sixers are 9-4 without him this season.
Despite Embiid being on the bench due to left foot soreness, the 76ers got double-figure point totals from five players while defeating the Heat 119-96.
Tyrese Maxey led Philadelphia with 27 points and seven assists on Wednesday. James Harden added 23 points, and Tobias Harris had 18.
It was a much better performance for the 76ers after consecutive home losses to the Boston Celtics and the Heat.
“Tonight we made adjustments,” Maxey said on a postgame television interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Everybody bought in with their roles because the big fella sat.”
Deep reserve Paul Reed played arguably his best game all season, finishing with 16 points, a career-best 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. Shake Milton also chipped in with 12 points off the bench.
“It was amazing,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of Reed’s performance. “Scoring is always a bonus. I thought Paul Reed’s speed was a factor tonight.”
The Sixers’ depth was another key.
Embiid, Harden and Maxey all have missed a number of games this season, and Rivers has been forced to adjust.
“We have the ability to play a lot of different lineups,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to get used to it. We’ve got to be OK with it.”
The Mavericks will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they battle the Sixers.
Dallas also will attempt to start accumulating wins with the combination of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving leading the way. The team has lost four of the five games in which Doncic and Irving have played together.
Irving was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 6.
On Tuesday, the Mavericks fell 124-122 to the Indiana Pacers as Irving’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
“It was a good shot,” Doncic said. “It’s Kyrie. He can make a lot of those shots, and we trust him.”
Doncic had 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Irving added 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
Irving, who has averaged 24.7 points and 6.9 assists in seven games with the Mavericks, said he believes that the victories and chemistry will develop in time.
“I’ve been in situations in this league,” Irving said. “Some have been failures, some have been successes, but over the last few years I’ve made it a goal of mine to just be stronger mentally, especially dealing with the rigors of this mentally, physically, emotionally. It’ll come. It’ll come.”
One game after allowing a 27-point lead to dissipate in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks came up short again vs. the Pacers. Clearly, their defense must improve if they hope to defeat the Sixers.
“I think we should be talking about the whole team because we play as a team,” Doncic said. “We win, we lose as a team. It’s not just about two players.”
–Field Level Media