The Sixers are set to face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs. How will they adjust without Joel Embiid?
The Philadelphia 76ers were forced to do battle without the services of the mighty Joel Embiid. Still nursing a slightly torn meniscus, an injury he sustained in Game 4 against the Wizards, Embiid could only watch from the sidelines as his team closed out the series to advance to the semi-finals.
To have only had a day to practice and adjust to life without Embiid (temporarily, we hope), the Sixers looked surprisingly stellar in Game 5. Philly didn’t just win the game, but they closed out the series emphatically, defeating Washington by nearly 20 points.
With Embiid sidelined, the Sixers looked to other options to produce points. Veterans Tobias Harris and Seth Curry did an excellent job of providing a spark, combining for nearly 60 points of offense as their performance helped lift the Sixers over the Wizards. Curry was the star of the night, dazzling with a wide offensive array and making it look easy as he cruised to a 30-point performance, his new playoff career-high.
Curry said he knew heading into the game that the team needed him to be an X-factor and even joked that gaming with Ben Simmons the night before helped inspire his performance.
“He told me, ‘I need 30 from you, and I’m gonna go out and get a triple-double and close it out,'” Curry said through a smile. “So that’s what I did.”
Ben Simmons, who many considered the new alpha of the offense with Embiid injured, also played aggressive, chipping in 19 points en route to his third career playoff triple-double.
“We knew what we had enough in the locker room,” Seth Curry said postgame when speaking of operating without Embiid. “Everybody used everybody tonight to get this win.”
Last night, six different Sixers players had double-digit point outings, highlighting just how much of a team effort the victory was. The collective output by the team was a welcome sight, especially since it is unclear how long Embiid will be unable to play.
“Tyrese [Maxey] showed up in a huge way,” Matisse Thybulle said after the win, highlighting his teammates’ impressive performance. “Furkan [Korkmaz] showed up in a huge way. You can look really down the list and tally all the guys who showed up because we needed them. And I that shows our ability to win and close out series.”
Getting the win without their star was a true testament to the talent and depth Philly boasts and should be the league on alert that they are not going to roll over with their MVP big man.
“It takes everybody, at this point, especially with one of your main guys down,” Matisse Thybulle said postgame. “People have to step up, and I think today was the perfect opportunity for that to happen.”
Now, in the semi-finals, the Sixers will get another chance to prove themselves in a matchup against the Hawks, where they will need to continue being creative to generate offense.