By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers entered their opening night match-up tonight, looking to put together a dominating performance against the Washington Wizards. However, the Sixers were put to the test against the new-look Wizards and needed a big-time fourth quarter and another good bench performance to put the Wizards away 113-107.
On the win “Overall I love the win. They were engaged and they were thinking at the end,” said Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Early in the game the Sixers looked like a new team they were able to hit 54% of their shots, because of that they were able to open a 13-point lead mid-way through the second quarter. That lead was mainly padded by their second unit, who the Wizards had no answer for. They were led by guards Shake Milton and rookie Tyrese Maxey. Both proved to be a deadly duo. They combined for 25 of the bench’s 43 points. The second unit were able to be the spark the Sixers needed, to help them stave off a surging Wizards team.
In the second half the Sixers blew their lead, and the Wizards were able to ride their dynamic duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook to a 10-point lead. Both combined for 52 points. Westbrook had a big debut for the Wizards he became the first player in franchise history to have a triple-double on opening night. He scored 21-points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and had 15 assists. Westbrook was able to find his teammates and able to attack the Sixers in the paint. His inside presence allowed Beal to be able to attack from the perimeter. The Sixers did not get a handle on Beal until late in the fourth quarter. Before that Beal was able to burn them with his ability to hit shots from the perimeter. He scored 31-points and had an answer every time the Sixers went on a run.
The Wizards were able to take advantage of some offensive struggles. Especially, in the third quarter where the Sixers went through a power outage, they could not hit anything until Ben Simmons broke the ice with 6:00 left in the period. The starters were not able to find an offensive rhythm in this game, and the Wizards perimeter defense was the main cause.
The offense was sparked in the fourth quarter when Doc Rivers sent center Joel Embiid out there with some shooters. That gave him room to operate and he was able to score 15 of the Sixers behind a 40 fourth quarter points. That performance allowed the Sixers to retake the lead late in the game. As the Wizards defenders were not able to double team him like they were earlier in the game. Rivers was finally able to spark his team in a game that was threatening to slip away from them until Embiid shut the door on the Wizards. He scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
On the late game scoring, “I told them, that’s what you do, feed the pig. if they can’t stop it, keep running it,” said Rivers.
The Sixers starters still have some work to do on the offensive side if they want to be contenders in the East. They will need to unlock the shooting of Danny Green and Seth Curry. Curry showed up late in the game, but Danny Green was a non-factor throughout the game. They will need Green’s shooting to help give Embiid and Simmons room to operate. The Sixers will look to right the ship as they face the Knicks on Saturday night.