The Sixers came into game four holding a dominant 3-0 lead with every intention of ending the series in four. Several questionable calls, Ben Simmons foul trouble, and an Embiid injury scare did not allow for this to be the case as the Sixers fell to the Wizards by a score of 122-114:
Things start well for the Sixers
From the jump it seemed like the Sixers were warming up their brooms. The team made 7 of their first 10 field goal attempts and build a lead a double-digit lead early on. Ultimately the Wizards were able to climb back into it as things went extremely wrong for the Sixers.
The most noteworthy moment of the game was the injury to Joel Embiid who fell awkwardly late in the first quarter. Embiid was ruled out for the remainder of the game with right knee soreness and the Sixers were forced to carry on without their superstar.
With Embiid in the locker room, the Sixers struggled to find consistency from the big man position. Dwight Howard played 9 first-half minutes but produced 0 points and picked up 2 fouls during this time. The Wizards’ desire to push the pace neutralized his abilities as he was unable to get back on defense on multiple possessions.
Ben Simmons also was caught in foul trouble as he picked up three fouls in just ten minutes of play. The third foul came in the second quarter having been subbed in for under a minute before the whistle was blown. The Sixers were forced to play small for the majority of the half with Mike Scott getting some minutes as the primary big man.
Even with the Sixers playing an extremely sloppy half, a last-second three-pointer from Danny Green gave the team a 61-60 going into halftime. The pair of threes that Green buried in the first half also moved him up to 12th all-time in three-pointers in the postseason.
Hack-a-ben takes center stage
Ben Simmons picked up his fourth foul just 12 seconds into the second half while guarding Bradley Beal off the ball. This was a huge shot to the Sixers’ chances and further foul trouble to Dwight Howard forced Doc Rivers to make some tough rotational decisions.
The Wizards won the third quarter by a margin of 32-19 as the Sixers drastically searched for a spark. Luckily the bench was there to answer this call and 7 straight points from Furkan Korkmaz kicked things off.
Tyrese Maxey proved to be ready for the spotlight once again scoring 15 points off the bench and primarily guarding Russell Westbrook on the defensive end. The rookie played 22 minutes which was tied with George Hill for the most out of any bench player.
The Sixers were able to climb back into the game and even took the lead with under three minutes to play. Wizards’ head coach Scott Brooks elected to make a strategic move and employ the “Hack-a-Simmons” technique. This ultimately proved successful as Simmons shot 4-8 from the free-throw line in the final few minutes and 5-11 on the game. While his free-throw struggles have been a concern before, it was never clearer than in this matchup. Ultimately the Sixers were unable to secure the victory and lost by a score of 122-114.
The Health of Joel Embiid
While the Sixers certainly would have rather secured the sweep, the loss of Joel Embiid is a much bigger deal. It is unclear exactly what the injury is and the big man is expected to undergo more testing tomorrow to get a clearer diagnosis.
The Sixers will not need Joel Embiid to get by the Wizards, but their championship hopes could well be out the window if he is not able to return to the playoffs. It is too early to jump to any conclusion but the Sixers will wait anxiously of any news.
The Wizards showed some pride in this matchup and managed to extend their season by at least one more game. With Rui Hachimura celebrating like they were Wizards were winning the finals, the Sixers visibly frustrated by many foul calls, and the loss to a much less talented team- Game 5 has all the makings of a blood bath.
The two teams will return to Philadelphia for a matchup on Wednesday at 7:00. Expect The Sixers to regroup and find a way to put this series to rest at this point. The storyline will continue to be the status of Joel Embiid, but the Sixers will have to focus on finishing off the Wizards regardless of what news is still to come.
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