9:29 p.m. ET on May 29, 2021
The Philadelphia 76ers knew exactly what they needed to do to win on the road. On Saturday, they were up against a desperate Washington Wizards club with their season on the line, and the Sixers did not blink in the face of adversity.
Philadelphia made a huge run to end the first half and continued it into the third quarter to defeat the Wizards 132-103 and take a 3-0 series lead. Joel Embiid was outstanding on the road, scoring 36 points and grabbing eight rebounds. He flung Washington’s big men around like rag dolls, and he was no match for them.
Tobias Harris resumed his outstanding play with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, Danny Green and Seth Curry each had 15 points and six assists, and Ben Simmons had 14 points, nine assists, and five rebounds as the starting lineup was in sync all night.
Here are three takeaways from yet another playoff victory:
Simmons is a playmaker.
It’s games like this that demonstrate Simmons’ offensive prowess. He was always in the paint, which attracted a lot of defenders and led to a lot of open chances early on. He ran a corner pick-and-roll with Curry early in the game and got himself a slam. After a couple plays of worrying about Simmons, the Wizards sagged and allowed Curry to get a wide-open triple. On top of that, he was always pushing in transition when he grabbed the ball. Philadelphia’s quick tempo allowed them to score a lot of easy baskets. All of this is due to their outstanding point guard.
Simmons was pushing the ball in transition even when he wasn’t making plays, which is crucial to Philadelphia’s offensive success. The Wizards scored on one possession, and Simmons responded by pushing the ball and then hitting Embiid for a three as the trailer. As the Sixers began to gain away in the second half, Simmons moved the ball off a Washington miss and found Curry in the corner for an open triple.
Green’s Importance As a 3-point shooter, Green is obviously vital to this club, but it’s the little things that can truly make a difference. Early in the game, he accomplished the little things, whether it was a hustle play to create an extra possession or a defensive play that resulted in a turnover, he was demonstrating his experienced leadership and versatility. Of course, it helped that he hit five three-pointers in the first half, helping Philadelphia to a 71-58 halftime advantage.
Green was also in Maxey’s ear as a veteran who worked with him. He isn’t spectacular, but he is crucial to this team’s chances as a floor spacer and a player who can make the little plays. When they need it, he can also be that seasoned leader.
Milton loses against Maxey.
Coach Doc Rivers usually prefers a veteran over a rookie in postseason scenarios, but that was not the case on Saturday night. In the first quarter, Tyrese Maxey was selected over Shake Milton, and he appeared to be active on the field. He was a little like Simmons in that he was always getting into the paint and creating looks, but he couldn’t convert his one early look. Dwight Howard, who was fouled on his shot attempt, was set up by him. Milton did receive some playing time at the conclusion of the first half, and while defending Beal, he earned up a foul.
Overall, the bench had a poor performance. The Sixers won by a comfortable margin because their starting lineup put on a clinic on how to share the ball and play the game. Maxey getting into the paint and starting to produce offence was a bright spot, as did Howard being a defensive presence who bothered Washington when he was in the game.