After four nights off, the Philadelphia 76ers hit the hardwood once again Wednesday night. Making their way down to Washington, the Sixers would welcome back several key players to their rotation, including Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and a sorely missed Kelly Oubre.
All three of those plays starred in their own way and the Sixers desperately needed it as a game that should have been a blowout ended far closer than expected.
All night, the Sixers looked like a team without their legs under them, missing their first 13 shots from beyond the arc. With shots coming up short left and right, Philadelphia struggled to assert dominance early on, even finishing the first quarter down by four to Washington.
As the game would go on, the Sixers would begin to round into form offensively, or rather it’s more accurate to say that Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey put the team on their backs and carried the load, Embiid in particular. The star tandem would combine for 76 points, two-thirds of which came from Mr. Joel Embiid.
Mr. Embiid goes to Washington
What a night for one Joel Hans Embiid. As he tends to do against Washington, particularly this season, Embiid was dominant putting up 50 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists on 19/29 shooting from the floor. In front of his father, Embiid put on a dominant performance, single-handedly delivering the win for the Sixers. After the game, he even gifted his game jersey to his father in a special moment.
Tonight, Joel Embiid became the first Sixer with six straight games with 30 points, five rebounds, and five assists. The Philadelphia 76ers are an organization with a rich history including many star players and yet, Embiid is the only player in franchise history to accomplish this feat. As if there were any doubt, he is one of the greatest players the organization, and the NBA, have ever seen.
Embiid certainly deserves his flowers for his offensive performance and the Sixers would not have won this game without him, but he was not immune to the rust that affected the rest of the team. Racking up six turnovers and looking rather disinterested defensively at times, there were certainly lessons to take away from tonight.
While Joel Embiid was far from the only guilty party in terms of sloppy play and lack of hustle, as the star of this team, the burden lies on him to set the tone. Whether or not he consistently does so throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs will play a role in how far this team can go.
The return of Kelly Oubre
Tonight signaled the return of scorching wing Kelly Oubre, who had missed the previous month after being struck by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian. Weeks of healing and rehab led to his much-awaited return and in his first taste back, he did not disappoint.
Finishing the night with twelve points on five of eight shooting, Oubre was both efficient and effective despite his long break from basketball. It wasn’t as easy as Oubre’s box numbers made it look though as he suffered through his fair share of rust during the first three quarters of the night. Come the fourth quarter, that would change.
In ten minutes of action in the final quarter, Oubre scored a massive ten points that helped secure the win for Philadelphia. His signature effort and energy were on full display and Sixers fans were loving every moment.
Up Next for the Sixers
The Sixers will return home for a Friday night matchup against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. While the Hawks are clinging to a play-in spot, the talent on the roster is more impressive than their record. Philadelphia cannot fall victim to a trap game as they must capitalize on this rather light seven-game stretch.