All Hands In: 76ers Close Out Wizards with Team Effort, Advance in Playoffs
Just after 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers took his place for his standard pregame media availability over Zoom.
With the majority of the 10-minute conversation centering around All-Star Joel Embiid’s health (Embiid was ruled out due to injury earlier in the day), Rivers simplified the 76ers’ approach towards the forthcoming Game 5.
“[We] have to focus on today and now. Our job is to win a game, now, at home.
“Everybody has to do their part. And no one has to feel like they have to do Joel’s part. As long as we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Check and check.
The 76ers defeated the Washington Wizards, 129-112, to win the first-round series, 4-1, and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the third time in the past four seasons.
Tobias Harris posted 28 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals before echoing what his coach had said pregame:
“I think everybody came in with a great mentality, a great focus, from the start of the day all the way through the game. We held our composure all night...truth be told, that was a whole collective, group effort right then and there. Everybody played a part in that and that’s a great win for us.”
Tobias Harris says the @sixers plane getting delayed and grounded after their Game 4 loss was, ironically, good for the group:
"It was 5 or 6 hours of us chopping it up and talking."
He said that experience brought them closer together, and motivated to end the series.
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) June 3, 2021
The home crowd at The Center, which was as full as it's been in more than a year with capacity increased to over 15,500 fans, energized the Sixers in the closeout contest.
Harris and teammate Dwight Howard were among the players to visibly encourage the fans during critical moments of the first-round clincher.
“Seeing a sold-out arena is always an amazing thing,” Harris said. “We haven’t had that all year. I know how important our crowd is. I know how important this game was for us as a collective group, too.”
“We’ve got a lot of confident guys in there who have had a good year,” Seth Curry said of the Sixers’ locker room. Curry, himself, poured in a new playoff career-high 30 points in the victory.
Ben Simmons is one such guy.
In the absence of Embiid, all eyes were on Simmons in Game 5. The three-time All-Star went out and notched the third playoff triple-double of his career.
Per @EliasSports, that breaks a tie w/ HOFer Charles Barkley and moves Simmons into second place all-time in 76ers playoff history, behind only HOFer Wilt Chamberlain (8).
— Sixers Stats (@SixersStats) June 3, 2021
“I’ve got my teammates with me,” Simmons said. “They’ve all got my back, and I’ve got theirs. Everyone really stepped up.”
The 76ers sought a total team effort to advance, and they got it.
“It was what you would call an all-hands-in team win, for sure,” said Doc Rivers.
Now it’s all-hands-in for the second round.
Game 1 between the 76ers and Hawks is Sunday at 1 p.m. in Philadelphia.
Photos: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards - Game 5 (06/02/2021)
Video: Ben Simmons Highlights vs. Washington Wizards - Game 5 (06/02/2021)
Video: Ben Simmons Postgame Media vs. Washington Wizards - Game 5 (06/02/2021)