Monday night is a chance for the Sixers to get to .500 on the season as they travel down I-95 to take on the Washington Wizards. The Wizards, who started off the season at 3-1, are coming in at .500 having lost their last two games, including a 112-94 loss against the Celtics, in Boston, on Sunday night. The Wizards three losses have all been by more than 10 points and while it’s early in the season, no one is expecting much from them on the year.
Sixers are bouncing back
The Sixers, on the other hand, were picked to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and to start off the season, they looked nothing like a team with championship aspirations. Yet, over the past three games, they’ve gone 2-1 including wins over the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls.
All-Star Center Joel Embiid missed the game against the Raptors as a rest day for his knee but, came back strong against the Bulls, hitting a game-winning three-pointer on his way to finishing with 25 points on the night. Tonight, Embiid is listed as questionable with a non-COVID-related illness and will be a game-time decision. if he can go, look for Embiid to build on his great play of the last week. On the season, he’s averaging, 27.2 points per game to go along with 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists as well as 1.2 blocks on the defensive side of the ball.
If Embiid isn’t able to go, the team can lean heavily on the likes of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. The Sixers backcourt mates have been killing it so far for the team. Harden started red-hot and has cooled slightly but he’s still averaging 21.6 points per game along with 7.3 rebounds and 9.0 assists. The scoring may be down after his hot start but that’s due to Maxey having gone out of this world the past few games. He started off the season poorly in the first few games and has gone on a tear of late.
The young star is averaging 22.6 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists. The bigger part of Maxey’s game is that he’s regained his shooting touch from beyond the three-point line, as he’s been 15-26 from long range and upped his percentage to 46.8% while shooting 50.4% overall from the floor.
Wizards looking for some magic
For Washington, Bradley Beal is back to his old self this year as he’s started off the season with 20.8 points and 6.2 assists per game. Along with Kyle Kuzma (18.5 points, 7.3 rebounds per game) and a healthy Kristaps Porzingis (17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) the trio has been solid for the Wizards each averaging over 30 minutes per game.
While they have some depth in Rui Hachimura, Will Barton, and Monte Morris, they don’t seem to have the depth to keep up with a team like the Sixers. Over the past few games, head coach Doc Rivers has used more of De’Anthony Melton, Daniel House Jr. and on Saturday night, even Matisse Thybulle who had been nonexistent on the floor. PJ Tucker has fit in well and is finding a rhythm with the team as well as forgotten man, Tobias Harris, who’s quietly averaging 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 41.5% from beyond the three-point line.
The team is finally playing like everyone expected them to this year and not the team that showed up for the first few games. Overall, the Sixers should be too much for the Wizards to handle and should cruise to a victory over them tonight.
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP