Recap: Wizards drop Game 1 to Sixers 125-118
FINAL: Wizards 118 | Sixers 125
Wizards: Bradley Beal (33), Russell Westbrook (16), Davis Bertans (14)
Sixers: Tobias Harris (37), Joel Embiid (30), Danny Green (11), George Hill (11)
The eight-seed Wizards fell to the one-seed Sixers 125-118 on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia in Game 1 of the teams’ first round series. Bradley Beal led the way for Washington, totaling 33 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists in what was the first playoff double-double of his career. Russell Westbrook finished with 16 points and 14 assists.
The Sixers’ defense was as good as advertised in the opening minutes. The Wizards started 2-9 (.222) from the field in the first 5:32 of the game, but turned things around when Joel Embiid was subbed out after his second foul of the afternoon. With Embiid on the bench, Washington went on a 20-6 run to turn a 10-point deficit into a four-point lead, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Davis Bertans. On the possession following Bertans’ second triple, he drew the defense his way with a shot-fake and found a cutting Daniel Gafford for a two-handed dunk along to baseline to put the Wizards up 26-22. The Sixers went on a 17-7 run early in the second quarter, but Embiid’s third foul of the night sent him to the bench with 7:07 left in the half and once again cost Philadelphia its momentum. Washington battled back and forth, keeping the game within five points for the rest of the half, and re-took the lead on a Gafford dunk with 15 seconds left in the first half. The Wizards shot 15-25 (.600) from the field in the second quarter, but the Sixers kept pace by getting to the free throw line. Philadelphia shot only 12-27 (.444) from the field and 2-9 (.222) from deep, but knocked down eight free throws to Washington’s two.
After a Ben Simmons put-back dunk put the Sixers up two early in the third, the Wizards scored on three consecutive possessions, including a contested 3-pointer from Beal, to take a 77-72 lead. Washington, however, couldn’t keep the run going. Philadelphia knocked down threes on back-to-back possessions, sparking a 25-12 run to go up 97-89 late in the third. The Wizards trailed by as many as 11 points early in the fourth quarter, but pulled back within five after a 3-pointer from Rui Hachimura with 90 seconds left in the game. Simmons missed a pair of free throw with 43 seconds left to keep the Wizards alive, but 3-pointers missed by Bertans and Westbrook ended hopes of a Washington comeback.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Washington struggles to keep Philadelphia off the free throw line
Overall, the Wizards put forth an efficient offensive performance, but struggled to defend the Sixers’ size without fouling. Washington shot 55.7% from the field compared to Philadelphia’s 49.5% and 40.0% from three compared to Philadelphia’s 31.1%. The Wizards were able to create easy points, scoring 76 of their 118 points in the paint and outscored the Sixers in fast break points (18-14). After averaging 59.2 paint points per game in their final 29 games of the regular season, Washington blew past that number in three quarters Sunday against the Sixers. The difference came at the free throw line, where the Wizards attempted only 15 free throws to the Sixers’ 33.
“They played better than us,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “We put them on the free throw line. That’s a big discrepancy. I’m not complaining about – we fouled. They’re good players and they put you in some tough situations.”
Wizards lean on bench before Beal’s big third quarter
As Beal and Westbrook struggled to get going in the first half, the Wizards’ supporting cast stepped up to keep Washington in the game early. The star backcourt duo shot just 4-12 (.333) from the field in the first quarter, but Bertans, Gafford and Ish Smith came off the bench to combine for 14 points as the Wizards took a one-point lead into the second quarter. Gafford, seeing his first-ever playoff action, was plus-13 in just four minutes in the opening frame. In the first half, Wizards not named Beal or Westbrook shot 17-27 (.623) from the field to lead the team to a 62-61 lead. Beal looked like his normal self in the third, scoring 17 of his 33 points on 7-8 (.875) shooting to lead the way for Washington. Beal averaged 36.7 points per game in three regular season games against the Sixers, including a franchise-record-tying 60 in the teams’ matchup in January. Westbrook totaled six points and eight assists after halftime.
Harris, Embiid set the tone for Philadelphia
With Embiid playing limited minutes due to foul trouble, Tobias Harris stepped up to lead the way for Philadelphia. Harris finished the night with 37 points, including 28 in the first half, shooting 15-29 (.517) from the field and 2-5 (.400) from 3-point range. Out of foul trouble in the second half, Embiid took over. He scored 21 points on 6-10 (.600) from the field, 9-10 (.900) from the free throw line and was plus-11 in 19 minutes in the third and fourth quarters. Embiid finished with 30 points and six rebounds.
NEXT UP: Wizards at Sixers / Wednesday, May 25 / 7:00 P.M. / Wells Fargo Center
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT