In this first-round series, it’s the Philadelphia 76ers who will move on after taking down the Washington Wizards. They were the team that had the clear advantage in this series and ultimately did their job. While this was a short first-round series, some “interesting” moments occurred. Let’s look back on what went down in this series.
NBA Playoffs Recap: Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards
76ers Holding Down Home Court
Game 1 was a thriller between these two teams as it was close throughout. With Joel Embiid in foul trouble in the first half, Tobias Harris picked up the slack and then some for the 76ers. He scored 28 of his game-high 37 points in the first half. It was a much-needed offensive boost for the 76ers as their supporting cast struggled in the first half. Embiid got going in the second half and finished with 30 points.
As for the Wizards, Bradley Beal led them with 33 points in Game 1 while Russell Westbrook added 16 points and 14 assists. Unfortunately for Washington, it was a turnover late in the fourth quarter by Westbrook that sealed the game for Philadelphia. It was a valiant effort by the Wizards in Game 1.
Game 2 was the opposite of Game 1. The 76ers cruised their way to a 120-95 victory to take a 2-0 series lead. Ben Simmons was the biggest bright spot for Philadelphia in Game 2 as he finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Embiid also added 22 points for the 76ers.
On the Wizards, Beal was the only player who had it going. He finished with a game-high 33 points. The Wizards were abysmal from behind the arc only converting on two of 22 three-point attempts. Westbrook struggled in this game and left the game due to an ankle injury. While he was heading to the locker room, a 76ers fan dumped popcorn on him. Westbrook had to be restrained from responding to the fan. As a result, the 76ers banned that fan from attending games indefinitely and revoked his season ticket membership. This was one of several fan and player incidents in this year’s playoffs.
Joel Embiid Bullying the Wizards Defense
Another game, another blowout. Embiid straight up feasted against the Wizards in Game 3 and had himself an MVP-type performance. He finished with a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes. Embiid was super efficient in Game 3 converting on 14 out of 18 shot attempts. All five starters for the 76ers scored in double figures in this blowout win to go up 3-0 on Washington. The Wizards got a triple-double from Westbrook who played through an ankle injury. Washington’s abysmal three-point shooting hurt them yet again.
Joel Embiid Goes Down
With a commanding 3-0 lead, the 76ers looked to make it a clean sweep against the Wizards. However, Embiid left during the first quarter in Game 4 after an injury. It was later revealed that he had a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Ultimately, the 76ers weren’t able to finish the sweep against the Wizards in Game 4.
The Wizards had many players who stepped up in Game 4 led by Beal’s 27 points. Rui Hachimura had his best game in this series as he finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds including a dagger three to seal the game. Westbrook added another triple-double for Washington. He finished with 19 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists despite only making three of his 19 shots. The win came at a cost for Washington as Davis Bertans went down with a calf injury that will keep him out for several weeks. They lost more size at the frontcourt as a result of this.
In Embiid’s absence, Harris became the primary offensive option and struggled. He only converted eight of 24 shots in Game 4. Harris scored 21 points and added 13 rebounds. The thing that worked for Washington was the Hack-a-Simmons strategy. Simmons missed his first nine free-throws in this series so the Wizards resorted to using this strategy. He ended up making five of his 11 free-throw attempts in the game and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 4 also featured another fan incident in this year’s playoffs. A fan was charging onto the court during the third quarter and was tackled by a security guard. That fan was also banned from attending games in the future.
The Inevitable Ending for the Wizards
No team in NBA history has come back to win a series after going down 3-0 and history wasn’t made in this series. The 76ers got the job done in Game 5 in Embiid’s absence. Seth Curry played his best game of this series as he led the 76ers with 30 points. Harris added 28 points and Simmons had a triple-double. Beal led the Wizards scoring again with 32 points in a losing effort. Westbrook added 24 points and Hachimura added 21.
The top performer for the 76ers would have been Embiid if he didn’t get injured so Harris gets this nod. He averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in this first-round series win. Harris is looking to redeem himself after a disappointing performance in the playoffs last year. Needless to say, he is on the right track thus far.
As for the Wizards, Beal was easily their best player in this series. He averaged 30 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in this series. Unfortunately, the Wizards supporting cast didn’t help him out consistently in this series.
Up Next for the Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers will now draw a second-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. They took down the New York Knicks in five games to advance. For the 76ers, Embiid’s health is a question mark moving forward. He is currently day-to-day with a knee injury. For now, the 76ers should focus on getting some much-needed rest before taking on the Hawks. One thing is certain, the 76ers will need Embiid to be healthy if they want to make a deep playoff run.
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