As Game four begins, Washington is in a fight for their lives. 76ers attempt a sweep. The winner would face either Knicks or the Hawks. It seems as a no-brainer, a game that the 76ers could easily win. However, a couple of factors easily change the momentum in the Sixers-Wiards game. The game results in a loss. How did we get there?
First Quarter: PHL 25 – WAS 28
Embiid injures his knee after only 11 minutes of game time. During a drive to the basket, Embiid tried to get the shot in against Robin Lopez. In doing so, he lost his balance and landed hard on the floor. When he arose, he was grabbing his hip and lower back. However, it was reported that what appeared initially as tailbone related was actually a knee injury. He wouldn’t return for the rest of the game.
Second Quarter: PHl 61 – WAS 60
No official word from the Sixers yet on Joel Embiid’s injury, but here’s the fall he took not long before leaving for the locker room.pic.twitter.com/s3NufD3LXs— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) June 1, 2021
In the second quarter, Washington picked up the speed of the game. Initally, Sixers were unable to take control back. Russell Westbrook carried his team and building momentum. Then, the sixers just managed to edge them before the buzzard. Both teams are within one point. Speaking of Westbrook, the Wizards player made history on the all-time triple-double list; landing in the number three spot.
Ben Simmons was called on for his fourth foul of the night. Had he not been in foul trouble at this point, the game could have had a different outcome. Simmons was not able to play agressively and only played 12 minutes before being taken out of the game. Simmons returned but he struggled to give the performance, we are used to seeing from him.
Third Quarter: 3rd phila 80-92 wash.
The third quarter was neck and neck. Both teams were putting up shots. However, that final minute was the crutical moment for the quarter resulting in the washington wizards gaining a significant lead on the sixers.
4th quarter: 114-122 final score.
The final quarter, Philadelphia started strong opening to a 15-4 run. Then managed to tie the game at 108 with just three minutes to go in the game. This is where Simmons gets into trouble as the Wizards developed a strategy to intentially foul Simmons. 0-9 at the free throw line, and with only 90 seconds left in the game, the sixers missed major opportunities to gain possession. The Wizards managed to take the win. Overall, this game showed us who will rise to the pressure and where the strengths and weaknesses are.
The Rookie, Maxey Rises to the Pressure without Embiid
Without Embiid to help throw the Wizards off-balanced, rookie Maxey steps up to bring much needed help their way.
One stand-out positive is rookie, Maxey. The rookie manage to score 15 points off the bench. 10 of those points came in the fourth quarter where every point was needed as the Sixers began struggling and they were pushing a comeback. Maxey even knocked down a triple. Any concern that he would fold under pressure was erased in this game.
“He just has a lot of confidence,”
Tobias Harris spoke supportively over his teammate. Harris showcased Maxey’s Efforts understanding that they were in a better offensive position towards the end because of the rookie’s ability to withstand the pressure and make the moves that needed to be made.
“He was a real key to that group that was able to get out there and get a run. He was able to get downhill, especially in the pick-and-roll, and then at the same time, he played some really good defense out there to get some stops to keep on running and going.”
Maxey had a great offensive game, but was also a formidble defender against Wizards star Russell Westbrook. Ultimately, Maxey was able to force Westbrook to make some turnovers.
Doc Rivers had nothing but positve things to say about the Rookie from Kentucky,
“I thought he was great. I thought he struggled in the first half, honestly, for whatever reason. In the second half, I thought he was fantastic. He was going downhill, I thought he made some good defensive plays as well, he was involved rebounding, and he was just he really really showed well tonight. I’m very happy for him.”
Where Embiid Stands Going into Game 5?
Embiid was taken out in the second after only 11 minutes of game time. He landed hard and was taken out to be checked. Embiid never made his way back into the game and it was determined that he injured his knee. He was considered doubtful to play game 5 and now is confirmed to have a torn meniscus. He will not play in game 5. The star was a great intimidating presence and scorer against the Wizards which impacted their gameplay. Without the presence of Joel Embiid, it appeared their confidence boomed.
Game 5 Strategy for the 76ers
Game 5 will take place in Philadelphia with a large hometown presence that could do wonders for their performance and energy level. So, now that Embiid is confirmed to be absent in Game 5, what do the sixers need to do to guarentee their win? One, they need to move the ball and fall into considerably less turnovers. The Sixers should control the tempo of the game and not let the Wizards gain momentum.
Ben Simmons needs to play a good portion of the game and do what he does best by reading the game and dictating where the ball needs to go. Also, Simmons needs to make his foul shots at least a good majority of them. Those points are gimmes and can make or break a game towards the end. The wizards read his weakness and used him to control the tempo by fouling him, knowing he wouldn’t make his shots. Also, other players need to step up in the fold.