Sixers Defeat Wizards; Will Take on Hawks in Round 2
Despite being without the injured Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers won game 5, 129-112 and closed out their first round series with the Washington Wizards. As expected, the series could hardly be called competitive. Find a recap of the game below, as well as an update on Embiid’s injury status and a look ahead to what the next round brings for the Sixers.
The starting lineup that Coach Doc Rivers settled on consisted of Seth Curry, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. The insertion of Thybulle for Embiid gave the Sixers a really interesting small-ball lineup that was particularly effective at switching screens against wing players. Obviously, a disadvantage of this lineup was its lack of size. Later in the contest, rookie Tyrese Maxey was given an opportunity to run with the starters, flashing spurts of energy on both ends of the floor.
The game remained close throughout the entire first half and much of the third quarter. It was during the late third quarter the Sixers began building their lead through a combination of stifling defense and a Simmons-led offensive attack. Dwight Howard in particular came through with multiple blocks that simultaneously discouraged Washington’s future drives to the basket and invigorated his teammates. A flurry of baskets down the stretch from both Tobias Harris (28 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Seth Curry (30 points, 3-6 from three point range) kept the game out of reach for the Wizards, despite Beal and Westbrook fighting to the bitter end with a combined 78 minutes.
A triple double from Ben Simmons (19 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) steadied the Sixers throughout the contest as much of their offense was centered around his dribble penetration and subsequent kick-outs. Also encouraging was his clip from the charity stripe as he hit a respectable 5-8 in the game. It is almost a certainty that a future team will employ the hack-a-Simmons strategy so he has to continue to demonstrate he can hit free throws.
Embiid Injury Status
Joel Embiid wasn’t needed to close out the Wizards, but you can bet his presence will be necessary for the Sixers soon. The official announcement from Philadelphia on Wednesday was that Embiid had suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee as a result of his fall in game 4 against the Wizards. Surgery would put a complete end to Embiid’s season so the team has opted to treat the injury with an intensive physical therapy and treatment program. His status is considered day-to-day at this point but I wouldn’t expect to see him in the Hawks series unless the Sixers really have their backs against the wall.
A Look Ahead
Wednesday evening also saw the Atlanta Hawks advance to the second round as they defeated the New York Knicks 103-89 in a game 5 of their own. As everyone knows, third year guard Trae Young is the soul of the Hawks team and their clear focal point on offense. However, his supporting cast is superbly deep with a full seven other capable offensive weapons on their team. The Sixers will host the Hawks in the first game of round 2 this Sunday, June 6th.