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 high of 36 points while having just 18 shots. For one reason or another, Washington refused to lead double teams at Embiid and that ultimately led to the demise of the Wizards. On the other end of the spectrum, Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double and Bradley Beal scored 25 points, but that wasn’t even enough to keep the game competitive in the end.
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With the win, Philadelphia is getting closer to a sweep and a little extra rest that always comes in handy during the playoffs. These two teams will meet again on Monday night with the first game scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 3.
1. A lose-lose situation
Washington has passed Joel Embiid aggressively in the first two games of this series. It did not work. Embiid averaged 26 points on over 60% of 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… only 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 runs 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 heavyweight in the regular season. They placed 13th in offense, and while Embiid chopped up everyone in his path, Philadelphia’s main concern heading into the playoffs was its ability to generate points when teams could plan the game against the. poor shot from Ben Simmons. Well, so far Philadelphia has answered these questions as well as it could have. They are averaging just under 126 points per game in this series.
2. The bench brigade
The five Philadelphia starters had at least a plus-27 rating in that game, an unsurprising statistic given the group’s dominance all season. With their five starters on the field during the regular season, the 76ers edged their opponents by 215 points overall. No other five-player lineup has gone over 127, and only four in total have made it to the plus-100. Put their top five against the other’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 its 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? With a five-man crowd on the bench, Doc Rivers has relied on most of the season in an effort to get Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as much playing time together 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 a single misalignment can cause. This strategy is especially necessary for two stars whose styles are as different as Embiid and Simmons. It’s easier for both to play their preferred style when the other is away, so Philadelphia should maximize those opportunities. Instead, Rivers sticks to what brought him here. It might 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 or not Rivers is ready to adapt his rotation picks to the looming season. ‘to come up.
3. Reality begins to set in
The Wizards were feeling pretty good about themselves 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 killer. The 76ers have won the last five halves with a total of 52 points. Washington has been largely uncompetitive since the first half of Game 1, and unless Philadelphia stops hitting shots in Game 4, it looks like we’re headed for a nasty sweep. This isn’t the outcome Washington wanted, but it’s probably the one the Wizards needed.
He is not a contender for the championship. Wizards 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 away from free agency, and if the Wizards continue to fool themselves into thinking this list can win with him, they could lose him for nothing the next offseason. This series may not convince them to trade it in advance, but it shows everyone involved that the Wizards cannot win a championship as it’s currently built. Whatever direction the team will take the next, at least that’s one direction they’ll be heading with their eyes wide open.