By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high as they entered the first game of the 2021 NBA playoffs against the Washington Wizards. Philly had the week off and they played like it throughout the game. However, they were able to pull-away from Washington and beat them 125-118.
It looked good for Philly early on they hit their first six shots and had the Wizards on their heels early. Forward Tobias Harris had himself a game this afternoon. He was unstoppable in the first half he scored 28 of his 37-points by half-time. It did not matter who was on him he had his way with any defender. He single-handedly kept Philly in the game when center Joel Embiid got in foul-trouble and the Sixers went cold on the offensive side.
On Harris’ performance, “He’s so talented and gifted and he continues to get better and better,” said Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons.
When Philly started missing a lot of makeable shots. Washington took full advantage they finally started hitting their shots and they owed it to guard Bradley Beal. Who finally woke up after being held in check by the Sixers throughout the game. He scored 33-points and hit some tough shots that were heavily contested. It did not matter who the Sixers put on him. He was triple and double teamed and still hit shots. He kept his team in the game and made it tough on Philly.
In the third quarter Philly finally was able to impose their will on the Wizards. Embiid was unlocked and scored 19 of his 30-points in the second-half. He hit some clutch buckets specifically in the fourth quarter. With him back on the floor they turned up the heat on the Wizards on the defensive side. This forced the Wizards into 15 turnovers and allowed the Sixers to get out on the fast break which unlocked the shooting of Seth Curry (15-points and hit three three-pointers) and Danny Green (11-points and hit three three-pointers). They hit six three-pointers and combined for 26-points. Both of them hit some clutch threes late in the game to help Philly pull away and earn a 1-0 series lead.
Philly also opened up the floodgates thanks to Ben Simmons strong defensive play on both Beal and guard Russell Westbrook. He made it tough on both of them and forced them to give up the ball and stifle the Wizards offense.
On the play of his Defensive Player of the Year, “I thought [Ben] was special tonight. Whoever he guarded struggled scoring… He’s a treasure. He’s something that you don’t see a lot in this league. All I see is greatness in him,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
The Sixers have a lot to clean up especially with their transition defense which made this game a lot closer than it should have been. Philly played like a team that had a week off, but they were able to pull-away when it mattered most but the Sixers will need a more balanced game on both sides of the ball if they want to dominate the Washington Wizards in game two on Wednesday night.