76ers first round opponent now down to Pacers or Wizards
The 76ers potential first round opponent candidates were cut in half last night. After the first night of the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Boston Celtics advanced to face the Brooklyn Nets while the Charlotte Hornets were eliminated. This now leaves just the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers, who will battle it out tomorrow night to see who will play the 76ers in the first round. Both teams are interesting matchups for the Sixers and could give the Sixers some minor issues based on matchups.
The Washington Wizards had a very rough night against the Celtics yesterday. Nobody could contain Jayson Tatum while he exploded for a ridiculous 50 point night while Kemba Walker was right behind him with 29. For the Wizards, Bradley Beal is still dealing with his injury but was able to put up 22 points on 40% shooting. Triple-double machine Russell Westbrook was an embarrassing 6/18 from the field, and the Wizards as a whole shot just 14% from deep.
Indiana shocked everyone last night with their blowout of the Charlotte Hornets. From the get-go, this game was out of hand. Doug McDermott had four three-pointers very early on, at one point outsourcing the entire Hornets roster. All-Star Domntas Sabonis was able to pull in 21 rebounds while the Pacers outhustled the Hornets the whole night.
If Bradley Beal can recover fully before the playoffs, this will be an entertaining matchup for basketball fans. Despite that, there’s no reason the Sixers shouldn’t be able to close this series in under six games. The 76ers played Washington back in March without Ben Simmons and could blow them out with ease.
For Indiana, they gave the Sixers some matchup problems over their three games this season. Indy was able to take down Philly during their last matchup a bit over a week ago, but the 76ers did not have Joel Embiid during the nine-point loss. Not having Caris LeVert due to health and safety protocols might hurt them, but Sabonis and Brogdon are still a scary duo.
I personally do not care who the 76ers play in the first round as they should take care of any of these teams handily. However, if I had to choose, I would take the Washington Wizards. Despite their star talent, Washington can’t handle Joel Embiid at all, and Ben Simmons will be able to lock down Bradley Beal, especially if he is not 100%. The 76ers will know their opponent for sure late Thursday night and begin their journey for the Larry O’Brien trophy this Sunday.
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports