The Philadelphia 76ers entered Thursday’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks on a high after trouncing the Miami Heat the night before. But what could have been a momentum-riding performance ended up being one of the worst efforts by Philadelphia’s starters all season.
Of the starting five, only Tyrese Maxey (plus-three) posted a positive net rating on the game. MVP front-runner Joel Embiid had a particularly rough night at the office, finishing with a minus-16 net rating on the night, one of his worst postings of the season.
After the game, Mavericks star Kyrie Irving explained Dallas’ plan for attacking Embiid, which his team executed to perfection.
“Make them dance, baby… Make them dance,” Irving said, per Justin Grasso of si.com. “Nothing like a big looking at your eyes and you’re coming full speed at them as a guard, or you have a change of pace. As great as a defender Joel is, when I saw him pick and roll a few times, you just gotta make him work.
Irving also noted that he had been preparing for this matchup by getting extra reps in during practice.
“Good thing the pull-up was working today. So I was working before the game and the last two days, just getting to my spot. So, I’m glad it worked out well tonight.”
The Mavericks, for their part, couldn’t miss on Thursday, Irving included. He finished with 40 points, going six-of-eight from deep.
Doncic Sounds Off on Sixers Following Mavericks Win
Not to be outdone, Irving’s backcourt mate Luka Doncic finished the game with 42 points on seven made triples.
Thursday night highlighted just how potent Dallas’ offense can be with two offensive genius running the show in Irving and Doncic. But after the game, Doncic assured fans he wasn’t worried about offense at all.
“The offense I don’t think is a problem, you know since this (Kyrie Irving) trade I think offensively we’ve been good,” Doncic told reporters after the game.
Doncic was also proud of the fact that Dallas’ offense held up against the Sixers’ strong defense. Philadelphia owns the NBA’s ninth-best defense this season.
“Just on the defensive end, when you play a team like Philly, one of the best in the NBA, shows we can do it.”
Ultimately, the Sixers’ defense looked hapless against Dallas. The Mavericks hung 133 points on Philadelphia through four quarters, tied for the most any team has scored on Philadelphia this season.
A potential bright spot for Philly: only two opponents shot the ball better than Dallas did on Thursday so far this season, the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Both of those contests ended in wins for the Sixers.
Doc Rivers Calls Out Kyrie Irving & Luka Doncic
After the game, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called out the two Mavericks stars for their epic performances.
“Luka and Kyrie are great,” Rivers said. “The one thing you got to say, they did make tough shots, but I didn’t like the fact that they had a lot of those one-on-ones. I don’t want either one of those guys playing that much one-on-one, so give them credit.”
The Sixers take on the Milwaukee Bucks in an Eastern Conference showdown Saturday night.