On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks took on the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Under those circumstances, Dallas was without Kristaps Porzingis and was forced to handle MVP candidate Joel Embiid without their most threatening interior paint presence on defense. Predictably, things didn’t go too well.
The Sixers were able to put their foot on the gas in the second half and easily pull away for a 113-95 W.
Embiid was able to rack up 36 points on 10/17 shooting from the field in just 26 minutes on Monday night. He also lived at the free throw line with 15 attempts in those limited minutes. The Mavericks simply couldn’t handle the big man on any part of the court.
“Embiid was just dominant out there. It was really difficult to deal with him,” Rick Carlisle said after the game. “He’s a great player. He’s really matured a lot, grown a lot. He showed everything tonight, everything from back-in dunks, turnaround shots, 3s, face-ups, the whole deal. He passed the ball well, too. That was a big problem.”
One of the biggest problems for Dallas when they were trying to establish any sort of defensive traction against Embiid early on was Maxi Kleber, back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s game against San Antonio, picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game and Carlisle had to go to Nicolo Melli to try to play D in the post. Kleber only played 14 minutes on the night as he ended the game with four personal fouls and it wasn’t easy for him to stay on the court.
“It was tough. Maxi [Kleber] picked up two early fouls. We were a little short on bigs,” Dorian Finney-Smith said after the game. “Next man had to step up, he [Joel Embiid] got a rhythm going, he got to the free throw line early. Easy to put in the basket, it looks bigger when you get to the free throw line a few times. That’s what they did.”
On a more positive note, Monday night was the Mavericks debut for guard J.J. Redick who was acquired back on the March 25th trade deadline from New Orleans. Nearly three weeks later, it was nice to see him finally out there for the Mavs after nursing a heel injury that had kept him out of a game since March 3rd. While he went just 1/7 from the field in a short 13 minutes off the bench, Rick Carlisle is still excited to have the veteran on board.
“I love the way he moves on the court… He’s going to help us. We’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow. The hope is that he’s doing fine and continues to cycle up in a positive way from his rehab.”
With the loss, Dallas is now 29-24 on the season and still a full two games back of Portland for the sixth seed in the West playoff standings. Up next for Dallas is the team currently in the eighth seed, Memphis. The Mavs have two games in the final month or so of the regular season at FedEx Forum starting on Wednesday night at 8:30.
PTS: Embiid 36, Luka Doncic 32
REB: Finney-Smith 11, Embiid/Dwight Howard 7
AST: Ben Simmons 7, Shake Milton 5
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