The Sixers are moving on to face the Washington Wizards after a nail-biter against the San Antonio Spurs. So far, the team boasts a 1-1 record during the seeding games,. Considering their competition, the early results are disappointing. This is especially the case when you look at how the Sixers won against the Spurs. The fact is, the team deserved to lose and if not for a Shake Milton bailout, they would have.
The Sixers need to maximize every chance they get to prepare there players (and Head Coach) for the playoffs. With that said, there are three things to watch before tonight’s game.
The Wizards are “Hurting”
The Washington Wizards were not the most competitive team even before the season was suspended. Part of this is due to star John Wall missing the entire season due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. It’s not just Wall’s absence that .
Elite Shooting Guard Bradley Beal is also absent from the roster as he has been dealing with a lingering shoulder injury. Beal’s absence is even more detrimental to the team as, in Wall’s absence, Beal has shown to be the Wizards, primary Superstar.
While not an injury, the Wizards will also be missing breakout Forward Dāvis Bertāns. Again thankfully, Bertāns isn’t injured. He is actually sitting out to prepare for the upcoming NBA free agency. After nearly doubling his career point average this season, Bertāns is making the shrewd financial move of preventing any harm from befalling him.
While his absence will not be felt as strongly as Wall or Beal, it does reduce the Wizards roster to a mix of rookies and misfits.
Conversely, the Sixers should be showing up unusually healthy. Yes, Glenn Robinson III (Hip), Mike Scott (Knee), and Kyle O’Quinn (missed COVID test) are all either likely or confirmed to miss the game but GR3 is the only player who was likely to have any meaningful playing time among them. All things considered, that’s a win.
A Chance for Simmons to Get Right
It’s no well-kept secret that Ben Simmons has performed below-par in the first two seeding games. After hearing nothing but positivity about his prep-work, Simmons has shown more rust than Mater so far. He has yet to take a three-point shot and more importantly, he hasn’t played the All-NBA defense we know he’s capable of.
But this game will hopefully be an opportunity for Simmons to gain confidence.
Like I said, the Washington Wizards are, for lack of a better term, “hurting”. This roster looks as rough as the Sixers’ prime “Process” days and the Sixers have no excuse to do anything less than demolish them.
There is not a single active player on this Wizards roster who can hold a candle to Simmons. Brett Brown needs to recognize that and adjust the gameplan accordingly. To build Simmons’ confidence, Brown should let him loose, let Simmons play his brand of basketball.
If Simmons is able to score/pass with ease, that should allow the rest of his game to come to him naturally.
Brett Brown should be under the Sixers microscope.
No this does not mean that if Brett Brown screws this up he should be fired. Though if this game is anything other than the blowout it should be and Brown is at fault, it should be well documented.
Brown has a history of not preparing his team for “trap” games, easy wins that they end up losing. To lose this game would be so egregious, that matched with his questionable decision making in the first two seeding games should go on his “permanent record” of sorts.
The keys to victory for Brown should be: Motivating his stars, preaching defense, and distributing minutes responsibly. This means no more Raul Neto.
This post-season will be very telling for the seven-year Head Coach. It shouldn’t be categorized as likely that he will be replaced after the season but if he is an absolute catastrophe, there’s a chance.
Where to Watch
The game has an early tip-off at 4 PM EST and you can watch it at NBC Sports Philadelphia. Or if you prefer, you can listen as always at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.
This game should be a relaxing affair. Anything less and the Sixers’ season may be in serious trouble.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports