Wizards Face Reality in Game 2 in Philadelphia – NBC4 Washington
Wizards face reality test in match 2 loss to 76ers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 120-95 in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night, giving the Sixers a 2-0 lead. Here are five observations of what happened …
No matter how much the Wizards saw their heyday during the regular season, they’ve always entered the playoffs as an eighth seed and after two games they realize just how big the gap is. between them and the No.1 Sixers. While Game 1 was close, Game 2 was a full beat that saw them drag up to 27 points and clear their bench before the middle of the fourth quarter.
Now down 0-2 in the series, there is a disturbing story working against the Wizards. Since the first round was extended to a seven-game streak in 2003, the seeds are 25-0 when they win the first two games.
Wizards got Joel Embiid’s full experience in this one. He had 22 points and seven rebounds in just 26 minutes. He scored on all three levels, including a 3 for 4 night from three. He even brought out the taunts, like after a and-1 in the first half when he pushed his hips up in the air in the field.
Davis Bertans, meanwhile, was a glaring weak link in it. He fouled in 23 minutes with zero points and shot a nasty 0-for-4 on three. He became the first player to foul after a scoreless playoff game in six years. Bertans was excellent in the first half of Game 1, but the Sixers clearly made an adjustment. He doesn’t play like wizards need and pay for him.
Simmons was on a mission
Although the Sixers won Game 1, a lot was done in Philly about Ben Simmons having just six points. He had 15 assists and 15 rebounds and played impeccable defense. But he only scored six points and it became a thing, as head coach Doc Rivers joked that it was a post-practice story. Tuesday.
Simmons must have heard the criticism because he came out swinging in Game 2, tying his game 1 out scoring halfway through the first quarter. It would fly everywhere, make its way to the edge, and intimidate wizarding defenders along the way. He had 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block. It was the type of play that reminded everyone that he could score really well whenever he wanted.
Another big game from Beal
There has been one unfortunate trend for the Wizards so far in this series and that is the inability to capitalize on big quarters for Bradley Beal. In Game 1, he had 17 points in the third quarter, but Washington was edged out by seven in the frame. In Game 2, he had 16 points in the second quarter, but the Sixers won that quarter by three.
Beal in either case came out with a level of urgency that suggested he was trying to put his team on the back burner. Yet each time the Sixers were able to respond and prevent the Wizards from stopping in a timely manner to forge a lead. You can imagine how deflating it is for a team, when a guy is legitimately unstoppable but the opponent still maintains an advantage.
Beal had 33 points and shot 14 for 28 from the field. He tied his points total from the first game and shot the exact same three (1 for 6).
Westbrook was not great
The Wizards’ soaring late-season run was showcased by Russell Westbrook playing like an all-time greats. He racked up triple doubles, reduced his turnovers and scored more effectively.
Thanks to two games in this series, Westbrook has been doing very well. In the first game, he had 16 points and 14 assists, but also six turnovers and shot 41.7%. In Game 2, he was held by 10 points with four turnovers in 29 minutes. If we’ve learned anything about the Wizards this season, they go as we go. When Westbrook is off, so are the Wizards.
Westbrook may not be 100% healthy, which could be part of it. He had to leave for the locker room twice with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Unfortunately, the second time around, a Sixers fan threw popcorn at him as he entered the tunnel. Westbrook had to be retained by Wizards trainers. After a long wait to return to the stadiums, Philly fans are still Philly fans, apparently.
Regardless of how this series ends, the Wizards will need to consider their addiction to Westbrook this offseason. They cannot be as dependent as they are on a few selected players; namely Westbrook and Beal. Maybe it’s just more depth they need, or maybe something more substantial.
Same range, small modification
Given the obvious size advantage the Sixers displayed in Game 1, there was more than one that encouraged head coach Scott Brooks to shake up his starting lineup. He didn’t, however, and that wasn’t at all surprising given Brooks’ history. He generally rolls with what worked and the three-guard training with Raul Neto is what helped their end-of-season turnaround.
A loss was not enough for Brooks to change his mind in this regard, but it was enough for him to get Chandler Hutchison off the bench after being DNP (coaching decision) in Game 1. It helped the cause of Hutchison which Rui Hachimura obtained. struggling early, but it also made sense given that Hutchison is tall and athletic and therefore gives the Wizards a better chance of competing against the Sixers’ unusually tall first unit, led by 6-foot-10 Simmons at the point guard.
Brooks, however, only played Hutchison for about five minutes with the game at hand and that was the only change in rotation he made. Garrison Mathews, Anthony Gill and Isaac Bonga were absent until the time of the garbage.