By Connor Thomas
It appeared that defense took a queue from the lack of fans in the Wells Fargo Center this year and decided to also not show up to the Sixers-Wizards game last night. The Sixers, who were the only team in the NBA to hold opponents to an average of less than 100 points per game coming into last night’s contest, did not come remotely close to keeping up that form. That may not be completely fair, as only 4 Wizards reached double figures in scoring. The issue, however, was that Bradley Beal went nuclear, going off for a career high and Wizards franchise high 60 points on the night. Before we get into the herculean effort of Beal, however, it’s worth noting that the Sixers had their best offensive 1st half of the young season. Led by a scorching hot Seth Curry who scored an even 20 in the half and went 6 for 6 from deep, the Sixers had 82 at the break and 5 players already in double figures.
A 15 point halftime lead grew to 21 midway through the 3rd quarter, but Bradley Beal’s 25 points in that quarter slowly drew Washington back into the game. By the 8 minute mark in the 4th quarter, that lead had completely dissipated with the Wiz taking a 119-117 lead, and Beal having 56 of his eventual 60. With a huge lead now evaporated seemingly into thin air, coach Doc Rivers inserted his starters for nearly the remainder of the game, and used a combination of Ben Simmons and defensive specialist second year player Matisse Thybulle to try and slow down Beal. The strategy worked as well as anyone could’ve hoped, as Beal only scored 4 points in the final 8 minutes of the game, allowing the Sixers to escape with a 141-136 victory. While Bradley Beal obviously stole the show on the night despite his team losing, Joel Embiid was also dominant in the contest, scoring a few huge buckets to cement the win and finishing with a season high 38. Seth Curry also contributed 28.
Philadelphia moved to 7-1 on the year while Washington fell to 2-6. There won’t be much time to savor the victory, as the Sixers play the second half of a back to back tonight in Brooklyn against the 4-4 Nets. The Nets, who will be without superstar Kevin Durant, are better than their record indicates, and the Sixers have what many consider will be their toughest matchup of the year so far.
The offensive matchup of the game to watch will be Joel Embiid facing off against Brooklyn’s big man tandem of Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan. Embiid has been unstoppable at times this year in the post, but with two solid defensive big men, he has his work cut out for him later tonight.
The defensive matchup of the game to watch will be whoever covers Kyrie Irving for the Sixers. With Kevin Durant still quarantining from a close COVID-19 contact, Irving is the number one scoring option for the Nets. It will be interesting to see how the Sixers handle him.
TV: TNT and NBC Sports Philadelphia
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