The Philadelphia 76ers are one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals after completely outscoring the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at Capital One Arena in a 132-103 win to take a lead of 3-0 in their best of seven series.
Joel Embiid was an attacking force for the 76ers as the Wizards had no answer for the big man. The Philadelphia All-Star center finished the win with a record 36 points while taking just 18 shots. For some reason Washington refused to lead double teams at Embiid and that led to the demise of the Wizards in the end. On the other end of the spectrum, Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double and Bradley Beal had 25 points, but it wasn’t even enough to keep the game competitive in the end.
With the win, Philadelphia is getting closer to a sweep and extra rest that always comes in handy during the playoffs. These two teams will meet again on Monday evening with the opening prediction set for 7pm. AND. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 3.
Washington aggressively passed Joel Embiid in the first two games of this series. It did not work. Embiid averaged 26 points on over 60% shots in Philadelphia’s first two wins, and those doubles only made life easier for the rest of the 76ers, so Scott Brooks tried a different approach in Game 3. .
He left Embiid alone… to see him score 36 points in two and a half quarters. If the goal was to slow everyone down, well, that didn’t work either. The 76ers shot 17 of 33 for 3 points and the other four Philadelphia starters scored at least 14 points. Wizards don’t have a good answer here.
That’s to be expected when a No.1 seed plays a No.8 seed, but it’s not like the 76ers are an offensive juggernaut in the regular season. They placed 13th in offense, and while Embiid cut everyone in his way, Philadelphia’s main concern in the playoffs was his ability to generate points when teams could plan their game against Ben’s poor shot. Simmons. Well, so far Philadelphia has answered those questions as well as they could have. They average just under 126 points per game in this series.
Philadelphia’s five starters were at least plus-27 in that game, a less than surprising statistic considering this group’s dominance all season. With their five starters on the floor during the regular season, the 76ers outscored their opponents by 215 points overall. No other five-man roster has passed 127, and only four in total have reached over-100. Put their top five against anyone else’s top five and the 76ers would feel pretty good about themselves.
But surprisingly, in a 29-point win, no Sixers reserve was better than plus-4. Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton were negative. Philadelphia was leading by 14 when their first reserve came into play in the first quarter. By the time the five starters were back, the lead had been reduced to four. The main culprit? Doc Rivers has leaned on a five-man bench for most of the season in an effort to give Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as much playing time as possible.
It made sense in the regular season as a way to develop their chemistry together, but in the playoffs the stars are usually shifted to minimize the damage that one bad training can do. This strategy is especially necessary for two stars whose styles are as different as Embiid and Simmons. It’s easier for the two to play their favorite styles when the other is away, so Philadelphia should maximize those opportunities. Instead, Rivers sticks to what brought him here. It may make sense against Washington, but it will be problematic against Brooklyn or Milwaukee if Rivers continues, so one of the big playoff stories for the 76ers is whether Rivers is ready to adjust his rotation picks going forward. .
The Wizards were feeling pretty good going into the playoffs. They had gone from the 14th seed to the top eight, and with Russell Westbrook posting triple doubles left and right, they might have felt like they could make some noise once there.
Nope. The Philadelphia series was a massacre. The 76ers have won the last five halves by a total of 52 points. Washington has been largely uncompetitive since the first half of Game 1, and unless Philadelphia keeps hitting shots in Game 4, it looks like we’re headed for a nasty sweep. This is not the outcome Washington wanted, but it was probably the one wizards needed.
He is not a contender for the championship. The assistants are not close. Organizationally, they hate tanking, but needed to see how far this group is heading into a pivotal offseason. Bradley Beal is only a year off free agency, and if the Wizards continue to fool themselves into thinking this team can win with him, they could lose him for nothing next offseason. This series may not convince them to trade him ahead of time, but it shows everyone involved that the Wizards cannot win a championship as it’s currently built. Whichever direction the team will take to the next stage, at least that is where they will go with their eyes wide open.
And it will. The Sixers win 132-103 to take the lead 3-0 in this series. Philly will attempt the sweep on Monday.
For the gambling crowd, it took a surprisingly long time for this game to get the upper hand. The total was 227.5, and they only passed it in the dying minutes. Surprising given the scoring barrage of the first three quarters, but this fourth was slow by such a large margin.
Matisse Thybulle returned to the locker room a bit early, but it didn’t sound too serious.
Timeout Wizards, still down 23. At this point, one has to question whether Washington is also shooting its best players. Westbrook plays injured. Beal has been battling persistent injuries lately. If Washington is to have a chance in Game 4, they should probably make sure their guys are all fresh.
Russell Westbrook is up to 11 career triple-doubles in the playoffs after getting that 10th assist. He has 184 in the regular season, including 38 this season alone. It wasn’t enough with Washington so outmatched in this series.
Score after 3: 76ers a lot, Wizards a little. That’s a 23 point lead for Philly in what has become one of the most uneven games of the first round. One of those teams is fighting for the title. The other is going home in a few days. You can see the difference.
Russell Westbrook is charging for this post as it turns out things CAN get worse for the Wizards.
The 76ers are playing directly with the Wizards right now. Highlight the passes. Easy dunks. A lead of 27 points. This is a complete and utter demolition.
. @ sixers @JoelEmbiid scored a new career playoff high of 36 points in his opening 26 minutes tonight, while shooting 14-18 from the field. His previous record was 34, set on August 19, 2020 against Boston.h / t @Stathead
A new career high in the playoffs for Joel Embiid here. That’s 36 points… and we’re halfway through the third quarter. If he wants 50, he can get 50, but the Sixers could have this one locked up before he gets a chance. Unless the bench really ruins this, he’ll likely leave the game without coming back soon enough.
And with that quick and easy dunk for Tobias Harris, Philly’s lead is 20. The Wizards just can’t get the Sixers down a bit. Washington’s defense isn’t really worth writing, but the biggest questions the Sixers will face in the playoffs are offense. So far, they have answered the call.
What’s been interesting about this second half is that the Wizards seem to be in control of the terms of entry. This quarter has been fast. And that doesn’t matter. Philly only surpasses them.
Looks like Danny Green just got hit… the place where guys don’t want to be hit. He seemed to cut her wind for a second, but he’s fine and stays in the game as Joel Embiid tries to hold back his laughter.
. @ DGreen_14 logged on 5-8 3-point 1st-half attempts, 1 short of a career-high for any half of the playoffs. He & @jj_redick is just @sixers w / 5 3s in a playoff half in the PxP era. h / t @Stathead
The 76ers are shooting 52.4% from behind the arc. That’s an 18 point lead at this point. The rout is launched.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.