The first game of Philadelphia’s 2021 playoff run was far closer than many expected. Fresh off their recent play-in game victory, the Washington Wizards gave the Sixers all they could handle in an exhilarating first game of round one. Ultimately, the Sixers edged out their division rivals, winning the contest 125-118 and embarking on the first step to “taking care of business” in a series where they are the heavy favorites.
Much has been made of Tobias Harris’s resurgence under his former coach this season. He continued that brilliant play in game one, proving to be the Sixers most valuable player in this contest. He led the team in scoring, going for a new career playoff high with 37 points on 15-29 shooting from the field. Most of his damage was done in the first half, where he looked absolutely unguardable for stretches at a time.
Joel Embiid found himself in some quick foul trouble and consequently saw limited playing time in the early going of the game. Even so, when Philly needed buckets in the fourth quarter, he was their first and often only option. His jumper was smooth as silk and even when Washington ran double teams at him he was able to sink shots without flinching. His final tally in game 1 came to 30 points on 9-16 shooting (and an impressive 12-13 from the foul line).
Meanwhile, Ben Simmons turned in a statline (6 points, 15 assists, 15 rebounds) fit for himself, Draymond Green, and absolutely no one else in the world. While he was active in setting his teammates up and collecting rebounds, the Sixers are going to desperately need more offense from Simmons further down the road in the playoffs. A meager six points, even with those other contributions, is unacceptable and that’s without mentioning the most frightening aspect of his play in this game (a goose egg from the charity stripe with six attempts).
Seth Curry also deserves some recognition for his superb play in the victory. Although he shot below his average from three point land, his ability to create his own shot proved invaluable while Harris and Embiid weren’t on the floor. The spacing and shooting that Curry provides will guarantee him a spot in any future rotation. However, Coach Rivers did utilize a full 11 players in this game and it remains to be seen when, and how, that rotation will be trimmed.
Bradley Beal poured in 33 points during his team’s losing effort but certainly put on a prolific scoring show. Despite being shadowed by either Simmons or Thybulle for much of the game, his offense just couldn’t be contained. Unfortunately, no one else on the Wizards managed more than 16 points.
Game 2 of Sixers-Wizards will take place at 7:00 PM this Wednesday, May 26th.