Wizards come close but can’t finish in game one.
Philadelphia- The Wizards played their first series playoff game since 2018 when they fell to the Toronto Raptors. Coming off a dominating performance in the play in game, Washington looked to steal game one away from the top-seeded Sixers.
The Wizards started off the game slow in the first quarter but were able to quickly pick up their slack. Beal and Westbrook however both were rather quiet in the first quarter. Veteran Alex Len provided some strong minutes early picking up a quick 6 points and a couple rebounds. Len finished with 12. Washington used a 14-6 run to close out the first with a one point advantage.
In the second, the Tobias Harris takeover began. Just when Washington thought they were out the woods when Joel Embiid entered foul trouble early. Harris quickly filled in and began to fill in buckets. The Wizards were unable to takeaway his drives to the basket as he began to score at will. He finished the first half with 28 points.
Washington however had a strong second quarter offensively. Westbrook, Beal, and Rui all began to get going. The Wizards brought one a point lead into the break.
The Wizards were finding success early by just simply beating Philly in transition. After made philly shots, the Wizards were pushing the ball down court so fast they were actually scoring open layups off a made basket. If you’re the Sixers, that can never happen.
The second half made it clear that Doc Rivers’s adjustments were the right call for Philly. Washington was unable to get those easy points in transition like they were first half. Philly was much more intergenic on defense and hustling. However, the defense was no match for Beal in the third. After a quiet first half, Beal dropped 17 points in the third quarter alone which kept the Wizards in the game. A 10-2 Philly run gave the Sixers a six-point lead heading to the fourth.
In the fourth, Washington hung right in the game and just wouldn’t go away. Both teams offensively were playing well. Bertans and Gafford each were providing solid minutes from the bench. Bertans found his stroke from three and was able to knock down some key jumpers. Bertans finished with 14 on 4-8 shooting from three. Gafford was 6-6 and added a block and 4 rebounds.
The strong offense however wasn’t enough to keep up with Philadelphia. Embiid, who had been in foul trouble a lot of the game, came back in and made his presence felt. Embiid is an MVP candidate for a reason. Down the stretch, Embiid became unstoppable whether he was attacking the rim, or shooting contested midrange shots. Embiid’s takeover and offensive struggles late by the Wizards ultimately did them in as they fell short.
Beal played terrific with 33 points. However, late turnovers by him and Westbrook came back to haunt them. Washington did a lot of things well and gave themselves a chance to win. All they need to do better is finish and this series could be very interesting.
Westbrook finished with 16 points, 14 assists and 5 rebounds. Westbrook was less efficent shooting however only shooting 7 of 17 on the night. Tobias Harris finished with a playoff career-high 37 points as he was electric. Embiid had 30 points while only playing 30 minutes.
Washington now down 0-1 will need a big game from their guys on Wednesday to give themselves a brand new series when they return home for game 3. The Wizards showed good signs today, now it’s time to play a full four quarters in the next one.