The Washington Wizards dropped game two to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in a disappointing fashion, losing by 25 points. After hanging with Philadelphia through much of game one, the 76ers took control of this game early and never relinquished control.
Game 1, which the Wizards lost 125-118, provided some encouraging signs. They led Philadelphia 28 to 27 after the first quarter, and led by one point going into halftime.
However, part of what allowed them to keep the game close early was getting Joel Embiid into foul trouble. Wizards center Alex Len actually outscored him 10-9 in the first half. Once 76ers head coach Doc Rivers sat Embiid enough to give him enough wiggle room with his fouls to play, he wreaked havoc on the Wizards defense. After scoring just nine points in the first half, Embiid scored 21 in the second half to finish with 30 points. He did it in signature fashion as well, with a steady diet of points at the line, where he was 12-13. Additionally, he showcased a willingness to pass out of double teams and making the team play even if it meant he might only get a hockey assist. The Wizards simply looked unequipped to handle Embiid’s dominant interior presence, and as they found out last night in game two, they cannot count on him always being in early foul trouble.
76ers forward Tobias Harris also came to play, and finished with 37 points. He was especially lethal in the first half where he scored 28 of his points. Rui Hachimira was tasked with guarding him for much of the game, and while he steadily improved as the game wore on, it was still an underwhelming defensive effort.
Russell Westbrook also had a poor game. While his stat line of 16 points, 14 assists and six rebounds sounds solid, he looked lost on offense and seemed to be forcing jumpers. Several mid-range pullups awkwardly thumped off the backboard as he tried to bank them off the glass.
Bradley Beal and the Wizards came to play on offense in game one, as they shot 55.7 percent from the field as a team and 40 percent on 3-pointers on 20 attempts. Beal, for his part, scored 33 points on 13-23 shooting. While the Wizards put together a valiant effort, they still had the dice roll their way in several instances, such as Embiid’s foul trouble and their scorching shooting night, and were still unable to come away with the win. As the score of game two indicates, not as much went right for the Wizards in their latest matchup.
Westbrook had an even poorer game, scoring just 10 points on 2-10 shooting from the field and 0-3 shooting on 3-pointers. Beal, as he always seems to do, managed to get buckets on a night where the offense was stangate and nobody else was worth paying extra attention to for Philadelphia on defense. He scored 33 points on 14-28 shooting and was the only Wizards player to play more than 30 minutes.
Defensively, the Wizards allowed the 76ers to shoot 55.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 21 3-point attempts. Embiid, Simmons and Harris combined for 63 points on 28-40 shooting. If the Wizards continue to allow Philadelphia’s three best players to score this efficiently the rest of the series, there is virtually no hope of them taking even a single game.
It has certainly been a less than ideal start to the series for the Wizards, as they looked overmatched on both sides of the ball. This is generally the nature of a one vs. eight first round playoff matchup, but it is very apparent that there is simply a gap in the level of talent these two teams possess. Perhaps the Wizards can make some creative and unexpected adjustments in the next few games to make the series interesting, but as of now Washington simply looks in over their heads. Historically speaking, NBA teams that go up 2-0 win the series 93.7 of the time, so their odds are not outstanding. Here’s to hoping head coach Scott Brooks has a few tricks left up his sleeve.
All stats courtesy of Pro Basketball Reference and ESPN
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