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Game Recap: Cavs at Sixers

*** In their first two games after the All-Star Break, both outings without their All-Star, the Cavaliers haven’t looked like the same squad that barnstormed through the Association in early 2024 – dropping their second straight, a 104-97 decision on Friday night in Philly. In a tight contest throughout, the Sixers took a slim lead early in the third quarter and held it the rest of the way against a Cavaliers club playing its second straight without Donovan Mitchell – out with an illness.

J.B. Bickerstaff | Cavs at Sixers Post Game | 2.23.2024

*** Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was undaunted by the two-game skid, Cleveland’s first of 2024. “We will be fine. We didn't play our best tonight, but give Philly credit. They've got guys that can make shots and they made shots down the stretch. But I thought in the second half we played the game the right way. Our defense was pretty solid, especially in that third quarter. So, we'll be fine.”

*** Including Friday’s defeat, each of the last five games – and eight of the last nine – between these two teams has been decided by single-digits. The Wine & Gold’s biggest lead on Friday was five; the Sixers led by 11 for a single possession. Philly has now taken two of three against the Cavs this year – including nine of the last 11 in the series – with one more meeting left this season, on March 29 in Cleveland. 

*** Jarrett Allen led the way in the scoring column for Cleveland, finishing with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, adding nine boards and a block. As good as J.A. was from the floor on Friday, he struggled from the stripe, going 4-for-8. Fellow big man Evan Mobley left some points on the floor as well – going 2-of-6 from the free throw line and 3-of-8 from the field for eight points. But Mobley did manage to lead the Cavs with 10 rebounds. 

*** J.A. on the Cavs recent rough patch. “It’s just a stretch of basketball, it happens to everybody. We were on a hot streak, we were used to winning, but in the NBA, you lose also. So, we just have to find a way to get back to us” 

*** Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers in scoring with 24 points and Paul Reed led both teams with 12 rebounds and three blocks. Former Sixer Georges Niang led Cleveland’s reserves with nine points; former Cavalier Cameron Payne led all reserves with 16 points. Niang’s third rebound on Friday night gave him 1,000 for his career.

*** Darius Garland had another strong night after the Break – finishing with 20 points and a game-high nine assists, adding five boards and a pair of steals. In three games against Philly this season, Garland is averaging 24.3 points and 8.7 assists per. He’s averaged 8.8 assists and is shooting 42 percent from deep in his last four games overall. 

*** Garland on how Friday’s sluggish start cost the Cavs. “(In the) first half we were kind of stagnant just playing with the ball a lot and then in the second half we got it moving, we got some stops to get out in transition. Then Max (Strus) got it going to start the second half with a couple steals and a couple dunks.”

*** Rounding out the Cavaliers in double-figures were Isaac Okoro – who finished with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and is now shooting exactly 50 percent from the floor (154-of-308) on the season – and Max Strus, who pitched in with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and is now shooting 54 percent from the floor over his last eight games. 

*** The Cavaliers two-game roadie wraps up on Sunday in D.C., taking on the Wizards before returning home for a big Tuesday night matchup with Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Mavericks. Cleveland gets right back on the road, closing out the month the following night in Chicago followed by a Friday night trip to Detroit.