By: Kylan Watson
With a 2-0 lead as the playoff series shifting to Washington DC. The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high as the Wizards had all the pressure on them to make this a series. Philly destroyed them from the opening tip using a strong offensive surge to crush them 132-103. They now have a commanding 3-0 series lead.
It looked good for Philly early on they were able to hit their first couple of shots. To match some strong intensity from Washington. Ben Simmons was the early contributor; he made his presence felt on both sides of the ball and had six of his 14-points in the first quarter. He took full advantage of the fact there is no one on the Wizards roster who can check him. He was able to take the defenders to the weight room and punish them from the paint. His playmaking also allowed guard Seth Curry (15-points) and forward/guard Danny Green (15-points) to go off. They combined for 30-points and hit a combined eight three-pointers. Washington had no answer for them, when they would run them off the three-point line they would attack the basket. As a team Philly hit 16 threes and hit 51.6% from beyond the arc.
Despite the early scoring of Simmons, Green, and Curry the Wizards continued to battle. They were able to cut the lead to eight-points by the end of the first quarter. They were able to do that thanks to the dynamic backcourt of guards Russell Westbrook (25-points) and Bradley Beal (26-points). They combined for 51-points, and it did not matter who Philly put on them. They were not able to get wide-open looks, but they still made Philly pay for even daring to give them a little bit of daylight. When they would prevent them from scoring a perimeter shot, they would just attack the paint. Philly did turn up the heat on defense and prevent anyone else from providing them any scoring help. Only four Wizards scored in double figures in this game and as a team they only 42.2% from the field.
On Simmons’ performance, “That’s two games now where Ben recognized the coverage and we just said full speed ahead,” said 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
When the Sixers needed a spark center Joel Embiid stepped up especially in the middle of the second and early third quarter. By half-time he scored 25 of his 36-points (a playoff career high) and hit three three-pointers. Throughout this series Embiid has been an assassin from the three-point line and the perimeter. The Wizards have let him shoot from beyond the arc and he has made them pay. This was Embiid’s best game of the series and the best game of the playoffs for this team. If the Sixers can continue to get a balanced scoring effort, they might be able to get out of the East and get to the finals.
On his team’s performance, “Tonight we had one of those nights where everything just fell for us. It’s a make or miss league, and tonight, we made everything,” said Rivers.
Philly now will get a day off as they prepare for game 4 on Monday night. They will need to have another strong night on both sides of the ball. If they want to get the brooms out and send the Wizards home. To get some rest before their second-round match-up against the winner of the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks playoff match-up.
On the what his team has done, “We haven’t done nothing yet. We just have to keep on playing the way we’re playing. Gotta focus on doing your job,” said Rivers.