Two upper-echelon Eastern Conference teams will square off when the Cleveland Cavaliers return home to close November against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
The Sixers have won three straight and four of their past five while the Cavaliers are back home after losing two of three on their three-game trip following a four-game winning streak.
Embiid scored a team-high 30 points in Monday’s 104-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks. He returned to action after a four-game absence due to a sprain in his left foot. Embiid took just seven shots in his first 15 minutes on Monday.
“I came in with the mindset to get my teammates involved because everybody has had it going and they’ve been playing so well,” Embiid said. “So I just want to keep that going.”
The Sixers, who also were without James Harden (foot tendon strain) and Tyrese Maxey (foot fracture), went 3-1 in Embiid’s absence, something the star says reflects the team’s resilience.
“Guys coming in, they haven’t gotten minutes all season, I’m just proud of them because they’re ready,” Embiid said. “You can tell they were waiting for this moment, for their name to be called. I’m just proud.”
Wednesday will mark the beginning of a stretch where Cleveland plays 11 of its next 14 games at home.
Without injured Jarrett Allen (hip) and Kevin Love (thumb), the Cavaliers lost the finale of their three-game trip, 100-88, to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Donovan Mitchell had his first subpar night with the Cavaliers, scoring just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field.
The Cavaliers couldn’t find their rhythm in the first half, falling behind 52-43 at halftime. That deficit grew quickly in the third as Cleveland made just 1 of 17 from 3-point range in the second half.
Two Cavaliers notched double-doubles, the only two Cleveland players in double figures in scoring. Darius Garland finished with 18 points and 10 assists while Evan Mobley had his fifth double-double in his past seven games — 18 points and 15 rebounds.
“Definitely a little more (offense) on a year-to year-basis,” Mobley said. “You definitely want to get better every single time and get more uses for sure. So I was expecting that.”
“I’ve never seen a young guy on a nightly basis, not knowing if it’s going to be offense or defense or show up on the stat sheet, but understanding it and not complain,” Mitchell said of Mobley. “That’s huge. But that’s not typical for a second-year player who should have been the Rookie of the Year last year.”
Mobley has matched his rookie season average of 15 points per game and is grabbing an average of nine rebounds, nearly a rebound higher than in his 2021-22 rookie season.
“I think the biggest thing is he’s just being decisive,” Mitchell said. “I tell him that all the time, and you can see it in his moves. You can see it in his play. He’s just being aggressive.”