Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 113-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Five observations

  • The Sixers are a good team that's improving. However, they're far from being a championship-caliber squad. Just as the Golden State Warriors did in their two meetings with the Sixers, the Cavs showed there's a huge talent and experience gap for the Sixers to overcome.
  • The Cavaliers have one of the top benches, if not the best bench, in the league. Cleveland's backups graded out at a plus-105. Kyle Korver was a plus-25 in just 21 minutes, 20 seconds. Channing Frye was a plus-23 in 18:36.
  • Three-point shooting has been one of the Sixers' strengths. On Monday, it was one of their Achilles' heels. They made a season-low three in 28 attempts. Their shooting  percentage of 10.7 on three-pointers was also a season low. Robert Covington was the worst Sixer. The small forward missed all nine of his three-point attempts and finished 1 for 11 overall from the field.
  • Ben Simmons has a ways to go before we can realistically start comparing him to Cavs standout LeBron James. James flat-out dominated Simmons, a close friend, when paired together. The Sixers point guard finished with a misleading 10 points and eight rebounds, a season-low two assists, and three turnovers. Two of his baskets came on back-to-back dunks in the fourth quarter when Jae Crowder, who had locked him down, was on the bench.
  • The Cavaliers showed how to neutralize Joel Embiid on the defensive end. Cleveland starts a small lineup with Kevin Love, a traditional power forward, at center. Love and the other post players played in the perimeter, pulling the shot-blocking Embiid out of the paint. That enabled James to attack the rim.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

  • Best performance: Only a fool wouldn't give this to James. The four-time league MVP was in playoff mode. James finished with 30 points and game highs of 13 rebounds and six assists to record his 12th double-double of the season. Twenty-two of his points, seven of his rebounds and three of his assists came before intermission.
  • Worst performance:  I couldn't avoid giving this to Covington even on a night when he learned a close friend had been fatally shot. He didn't attempt a field goal in the first quarter. Then he missed his first four attempts before hitting an 18-foot, pull-up jumper with 8 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third quarter. That was his lone offensive highlight, as he missed his final six shots.
  • Best defensive performance: Crowder gets this. He was the major reason Simmons finally looked like the rookie that he is before suffering a right ankle sprain in the fourth quarter and sitting out the rest of the game. Crowder, who sat out the fourth, did a solid job of not allowing Simmons to find a rhythm.
  • Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers' three-point shooting. Covington, Dario Saric (0-3) and Embiid (0-2) finished a combined 0 for 14. JJ Redick, one of the league's top three-point shooters, went 1 for 4.
  • Best statistic: This goes to the Cavaliers bench grading out at a plus-105.
  • Worst of the worst: When Joel Embiid's shot was blocked by Dwyane Wade. The 7-foot-2, 283-pounder attempted a put-back under the basket that was blocked. Embiid would have been better off trying to dunk on the 6-4, 220-pound Wade. But it's hard to criticize Embiid, who finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.