Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards NBA Playoffs Preview

Spread the love

After coming off a blowout win against the Indiana Pacers in their second play-in game, the Washington Wizards will play the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. While there is star power on both teams, one team has a clear advantage in this series. Despite this, there is potential for some high drama games or perhaps some bad blood between these teams.

NBA Playoffs Preview: Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards

Backcourt

The Wizards’ backcourt is the strength of their team with the combination of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. This Wizards team’s success will hinge on how well those two guards play. During the regular season, Beal finished second in scoring behind Stephen Curry at 31.3 points per game. Washington will need him to score the ball at will if they want to beat an elite 76ers squad. 

On the other hand, Westbrook averaged a triple-double during the regular season for the fourth time in his career. He recently broke the triple-double record long held by Oscar Robertson. The Wizards are currently going with a three-guard starting lineup with Raul Neto joining Westbrook and Beal in the backcourt. Neto had some nice moments for the Wizards this year and will need him to chip in in any way he can on the court.

The 76ers’ starting backcourt consists of polar opposite players in Ben Simmons and Seth Curry. Simmons is a point guard trapped in a power forward’s body who predominately plays in the paint. In this series, he is expected to be the primary defender on Westbrook and use his size advantage to slow him down. As a result of his strong defensive play this year, he is a finalist for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year award. 

On the other hand, Curry does most of his damage from the perimeter and spaces out opposing defenses. He shot 45 percent from behind the arc during the regular season.

Advantage: Washington Wizards

Frontcourt

The 76ers’ frontcourt is the strength of their team. It consists of a finalist for this year’s MVP Award in Joel Embiid. The 76ers’ center had a monster season this year, averaging 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds on 51.3 percent shooting from the field. If the 76ers are to make a deep playoff run, they will need a healthy Embiid playing at an MVP level. 

The 76ers also have another frontcourt weapon in Tobias Harris. Like Embiid, he also had an efficient season shooting and scoring the ball. The 76ers will need him to score at least 20 points on any given night in the playoffs as their second option on offense. Harris had a disappointing postseason last year, so this is his chance to redeem himself and show that he is worth a big contract. Embiid and Harris are the 76ers biggest offensive weapons.

The 76ers have another sharpshooter in their starting lineup and it’s none other than Danny Green. He will be asked to knock down some threes and defend at a high level against premier wing players. Green will likely be the primary defender on Beal.

The Wizards’ frontcourt is much weaker compared to the 76ers. That starting frontcourt consists of Rui Hachimura and Alex Len. Hachimura is a promising young player for the Wizards and will be the third option on offense for the Wizards. On the other hand, Len will have it rough matching up against a skilled big like Embiid.

Advantage: Philadelphia 76ers

Bench

The Wizards have some bench players who can provide an immediate offensive spark. Some of those important pieces include their backup point guard Ish Smith, sharpshooter Davis Bertans, and mid-season acquisition Daniel Gafford. Of the bunch, Gafford has been the unsung hero for the Wizards. He’s an athletic big who is excellent at finishing around the rim. The Wizards are in the top five in bench scoring this year. They’ll need every bit of contribution from the bench to scrap out wins against the 76ers.

The 76ers also have a bunch of solid bench players. Shake Milton is their main source of scoring off that 76ers bench. They also have some knockdown three-point shooters in Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott. When Embiid sits, the 76ers have a backup center who fills in nicely. That player is none other than Dwight Howard. While the Wizards bench has more bench scoring than the 76ers, they’re not as good on the defensive side of the ball. That is why the advantage goes to the 76ers.

Advantage: Philadelphia 76ers

Coaching and Intangibles

Doc Rivers has done well in his first year as the Sixers’ head coach. They earned the best record in the Eastern Conference. While Rivers has had a bad reputation as a coach due to him blowing three 3-1 leads in the playoffs, he still has a championship under his belt. Furthermore, he is the 10th winningest head coach in NBA history.

Scott Brooks, on the other hand, has made the playoffs several times as a head coach. However, the Brooks-led teams haven’t found any playoff success.

As for the intangibles, the 76ers have something that this young Wizards team doesn’t have. This 76ers squad has players who have had a lot of playoff experience and a couple of NBA champions as well. Those experiences are invaluable because the playoffs atmosphere is much different from the regular season’s.

Advantage: Philadelphia 76ers

Final Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers in Five

The 76ers have too many advantages over the Wizards so this will likely be a short series. The Wizards could take one game against them, but ultimately, the 76ers will be too much to handle for the Wizards. Despite this, it still has the potential to have some high drama games.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images