How the Sixers extended their winning streak to five with a win over the Wizards

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Washington Wizards’ Taj Gibson, left, tries to hang onto a loose ball against Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Sixers put up their fifth straight win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night with a score of 112-93, as MVP candidate Joel Embiid put up his 38th 30-point game of the season (his sixth straight!) while once again playing just 3 quarters. This is the fourth time the East Coast teams have faced off this season, with the series now evenly split at two wins apiece.

The Sixers took a lead early in the first half, with both Embiid and James Harden playing almost the full first quarter – a rarity for head coach Doc Rivers. It wasn’t until less than three and a half minutes left that De’Anthony Melton subbed in for Harden.

Meanwhile, Tobias Harris did a nice job guarding Bradley Beal and nabbed a solid steal off of big man Kristaps Porzingis. They ended the quarter up 27-19, with 14 of those points belonging to Embiid and with the full team putting up a strong defensive effort. 

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A bump in the road

The second quarter didn’t quite go as smoothly, though. They started out with an all-bench lineup of Milton, Melton, McDaniels, Niang, and Reed, before Harden checked in after just a few minutes. While the team’s defensive showing remained strong – they held Wizards star Bradley Beal to just 7 points in the first half – Washington closed within five points as bench forward Corey Kispert put up a team-leading 14 points.

To make matters worse, Jalen McDaniels took a hit while shooting the ball, leading to a hip contusion and keeping him out for the rest of the game. And though the team kept pace with the Embiid-Harden pick and roll, they closed the half up by just five points after being outscored in the second quarter.

The Sixers rallied in the second half

But they picked up the pace once again in the third. Embiid came back with a vengeance, scoring 12 points along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 additional blocks to the one he had in the first. Both Embiid and Harris played excellent defense, and once again the bench team not only maintained the starters’ lead – they extended it. Led by the hustle and grit of De’Anthony Melton and Paul Reed, the bench mob carried the team into the fourth quarter and extended the team’s lead to a whopping 23 points.

With the Sixers’ lead assured, Embiid, Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and the remaining starters rested the fourth quarter while Doc Rivers experimented with some fun new lineups. Both Furkan Korkmaz and Dewayne Dedmon saw playing time, the latter of whom quickly put up a Kareem Abdul Jabbar-esque sky hook that many forgot he was capable of. The night was capped off by some fun Jaden Springer minutes. While he’s still developing, every Sixers appearance he looks a little bit more confident. 

The Sixers have long struggled with playing to the level of their opponent – putting up great showings against fellow contenders while struggling against lottery teams. But for the third game in the last week, the team put their best foot forward with statement wins, reminding everyone who they are. They’ll have the next two days off before heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum