Going into a matchup without your star player is always tough. Doing so having just lost the first game in a now 3-1 series with blood filling the water is even more so. The Sixers may have been without Joel Embiid, but were able to cruise to victory in the end after a triumphant second half against the Wizards, sealing their playoff fate in the next round.
The first half was a hotly contested affair with tensions clearly rising early and the Wizards trying to set the tempo. Philadelphia responded each and every time, refusing to turn the ball over and relying on their wing players to do enough damage to neutralize Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. In the second half is where things really got interesting.
Westbrook burst out of the gate as he often does, but he was being matched stride-for-stride by Seth Curry. The shooting guard rallied to a 30 point night overall, Shooting 58% from the field and hitting 3 of 6 attempted threes. He scored all 12 of the teams’ opening second-half points and didn’t exactly slow down either.
Curry was supported most notably by a tenacious Tyrese Maxey. After a surge in minutes last time out, the rookie looked destined to continue his breakout and did exactly that. He may well have been the player providing the most intensity on the entire team and after a few opportunities passed him by, he really started making them count. He ended with 13 points and 6 rebounds to his name.
While the rest of the Sixers were keen to preach patience, Maxey put his foot down and continued to drive to the hoop and showcase his moves in a bid to drive in additional points. This really elevated the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, a crowd who would soon be chanting ‘we want Brooklyn’.
Ben Simmons posted a triple-double on a night where the Sixers needed him most. The classic game of whack-a-ben started early, but Simmons remained composed at the free-throw line and was able to see off the barges and bruises absorbed throughout the contest.
Tobias Harris saved his most complete game of the series for last, going out in style. While he may not have reached the 37 points in game one, 28 did just fine, along with 6 assists and a pair of three pointers made. Harris did a great job of presenting a threat from both inside the paint and outside of it, opening things up to a Sixers offense that could well have been put into a box by the Wizards without their all-star center.
For now, the Sixers can hang their heads high. They took care of business against a Wizards team who were given a huge lifeline. That was abruptly ripped away by the time Seth Curry had finished negating Westbrook’s rampage. Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers proved that they can hang in the playoffs and get the job done.
The team will now look ahead to a seven-game series with the Atlanta Hawks in which we can expect Joel Embiid to make his return.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire