Top Takeaways from 76ers Loss to the Mavericks


The Dallas Mavericks (30-23) defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (31-21) 107-98. Below are my most impactful takeaways that headlined this game. 

Luka Doncic’ Offensive Masterclass

Luka Doncic was sensational in last night’s win and had an invaluable impact offensively. Firstly, Luka did a lot of damage in the pick-and-roll with Dwight Powell. In the pick-and-roll action, Doncic was able to use his rim pressure to generate open looks for teammates. Specifically, Luka’s dribble penetration caused Philly’s defense to collide into the restricted area, which opened up the perimeter. As a result of Doncic’s paint gravity, he was able to play-make and connect with shooters such as Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock at the corner. Additionally, Luka’s ability to score with his elite instincts and craftiness in the pick-and-roll was paramount. 

Luka Dominates 76ers Defense 

Due to the Doncic screen-and-roll being so effective, the 76ers tried defending it in a multitude of ways. Early on, Joel Embiid played low drop coverage, which worked fairly well. However, Luka’s rim pressure was too grand as he started to draw fouls, score off the screen, and found a rolling Powell for an effortless two. In addition to this, Embiid tried hedging the pick-and-roll a few times, but his lack of mobility and urgency (at times) caused failure. Additionally, the young Dallas star read Embiid’s coverage and found Powell in the paint fairly uncontested.

In the second half, the Sixers tried pressing Doncic at the perimeter and Embiid blitzed the pick-and-roll. This caused disaster, as Luka passed out of these double-teams with ease. Also, because of this high coverage, Powell often had a mismatch down low, which Luka immediately realized and capitalized on. Even the defensive talents of Matisse Thybulle couldn’t contain Doncic. However, Matisse did make things fairly difficult with his recovery speed, ability to fight through screens, and shot contesting. In typical Tisse fashion, he was a pest and did the best possible job he could on the superstar. 

Overall, Luka recorded another triple-double consisting of 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists

Dallas’ Lockdown Defense

In the first half, Philadelphia’s offense was hitting on all cylinders. Further, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris were shredding apart the Mavericks’ defense in a plethora of ways. For Embiid. it was his post shot creation, for Maxey it was his dribble penetration, and for Tobias it was his mid-range shooting. As a collective, the 76ers shot 56.0% from the field in the first half.

2-3 Zone Terrors

However, in the second half, things took a turn for the absolute worst for the Sixers. Right out the gate, Dallas came to Philadelphia with a devastating 2-3 zone defense. Throughout the season, and the last few years really, the 76ers have struggled against any variation of the zone defense. Tonight, this was no different and was arguably the worst performance against it this season. When facing the zone, Philly’s offense completely broke down, which ultimately decided this ball game. Specifically, the Sixers had a ton of miscommunications and bad reads that resulted in turnovers that Dallas took advantage of. In total, Philadelphia gave up 20 points off their 14 turnovers.

In addition to this, Philly’s ball movement was horrendous and was often just guys passing it along the perimeter, which resulted in highly contested shots. On top of this, the 76ers didn’t have any sort of off-ball cutting or screening like they did in the first half. This goes hand in hand with Philly’s poor ball movement. However, you also need to give Dallas their flowers. This was a brilliant adjustment made by Head Coach Jason Kidd. The zone in itself was designed so Joel Embiid couldn’t receive an entry pass in the post area. By doing this, Joel was constantly facing pressure and was forced by double and triple teams to take contested shots with seconds to spare on the shot-clock. Additionally, Dallas did a great job trapping Seth Curry in the lower baseline area. By doing so, this prevented Curry from initiating his lethal screen action with Embiid. Philadelphia’s offense was stagnant to the point where Embiid launched threes on consecutive possessions late in the fourth quarter.


Strong Outings from Maxey and Embiid

Despite the loss, the duo of Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid played very well. In regard to Maxey, the newly named rising star was elite in transition. On the break, his crafty dribble penetration and finishing were borderline unstoppable. What’s more, Joel Embiid frequently controlled the pace in transition and found Maxey cutting to the basket. In the half-court, Tyrese Maxey and Andre Drummond shared great success with the pick-and-roll. Off the Drummond screen, Maxey was able to apply pressure to the rim and get blue-collar buckets in the painted area. On top of all this, Tyrese’s court vision and facilitating were very good. The sophomore guard did an excellent job finding guys like Georges Niang, Isaiah Joe, and Matisse Thybulle at their sweet spots from beyond the arc. All in all, Maxey finished with 18 points and 6 assists on 65.4 true shooting.

As for Joel Embiid, his scoring ability kept the 76ers afloat in the first half. Through his elite shot-creation capability, Joel was able to dominate in the mid-range and unquestionably the post. Also, in typical Embiid fashion, his rim pressure drew countless amounts of fouls. All in all, Embiid shot 11-14 from the free-throw line. However, like I previously mentioned, Joel struggled against Dallas’ 2-3 zone. When facing this high pressure, his court vision diminished, and he lacked playmaking. Instead, he was forced to settle for heavily contested shots. Embiid led the team in scoring with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 58.3 true shooting.