5 Takeaways From the Sixers Game One Win Over the Wizards.
1.) Tobias Harris Has Proven Last Season was a Fluke.
One of the bigger talking points surrounding the Sixers this regular season was the re-emergence of Tobias Harris as a legit scorer. Harris ended the regular season averaging nearly 20 points a game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. There are multiple reasons for Harris’ big regular season, but none of that really mattered if he struggled to score in the post-season.
Tobi spent little time disproving that notion, having the best playoff game of his career. Harris went for a career-high 37 points while shooting over fifty percent from the field. With Joel in foul trouble early and our shooters struggling to score, Harris put the team on his back.
I am fully confident that if Harris didn’t go absolutely ballistic from the field, especially in the first half, the Sixers would’ve lost this game. Keep in mind that Harris missed his last five shots of the game, meaning prior to that he was shooting an insane 15 of 19 from the field. Tobias Harris showed NBA fans across the nation what we’ve been preaching for months now, and if he stays hot like this with Joel not having to sit with foul trouble this series will end with the brooms coming out.
2.) Ben Simmons Had One of His Best Playoff Games Ever.
It wouldn’t be Sixers post-season basketball without Sixers fans having polarizing opinions about Ben’s first playoff game of the season. This time though, there’s only one correct answer for his performance: masterful. I’ve outlined countless times what makes Ben Simmons an elite asset on the court, and he showed that on the national stage on Sunday.
Simmons tallied 15 assists (a playoff career high), contributing to 42 points scored by the Sixers directly. On top of that, Ben lead the game with 15 rebounds (another playoff career high), giving him the most Simmons-like double double ever. What lame “basketball fans” decided to focus on was his mere six points in the contest, and decided to use that to slander his performance.
The only part of Simmons’ game on Sunday you can criticize was his play at the charity stripe, going 0-for-6. Smart Sixers fans know that Simmons doesn’t need to score to be an elite talent on the court, and that was on full display yesterday.
3.) Offensive Production From the Bench May Become Serious Problem for Philly.
This piece isn’t aimed to just praise the Sixers endlessly for their win, as there were some problematic parts to the win. Keep in mind that the Sixers were down to end both the first quarter and at halftime, and there were a couple of reasons why.
The main problem was with Joel getting into foul trouble early, which forced him to sit for most of the opening half. This meant Doc had to adjust his rotations early, and the Sixers would end up rolling out a lineup of Hill, Milton, Thybulle, Korkmaz, and Howard in the second. Now Howard and Thybulle certainly gave the Wizards trouble on the defensive side, but Philly’s second unit struggled to score on the other end of the court. In particular, Furkan and Shake couldn’t get anything going in what was a tight second quarter. Furkan ended the game with no points shooting 0-3 from the field and Shake only shot the ball three times in the contest for five points.
Luckily this lineup didn’t stay on the court for very long as starters are usually staggered in with bench players in playoff rotations, but this lack of scoring from the bench could become problematic. It most likely won’t show up much in this opening series against a lack-luster Wizards team, but if guys like Milton and Korkmaz go cold further in the playoffs it could really hurt the Sixers. Guys like Thybulle and Howard are in there to provide defense with the starters out, and guys like Shake and Furkan need to be the offensive threats off the bench for the Sixers. If either continue to struggle, especially Shake, don’t be surprised if we see more of Tyrese Maxey this post-season.
4.) The Sixers Transition Defense Still Needs Work.
There’s no denying the Sixers have one of the best defenses of the teams in the playoffs this season, but one glaring hole continues to be their defense in transition. The biggest reason the Wizards were able to stay in this game for so long was due to their greatest strength, transition offense.
While Russel Westbrook didn’t have a great game, he did constantly beat Philly down the court for easy buckets throughout the game. While I think matching Danny Green on Russ is a great idea in the half-court, Green simply cannot keep up with Westbrook in transition. It didn’t even stop with Westbrook getting rest, as Washington rotation pieces Ish Smith and Daniel Gafford routinely beat the Sixers down-court for easy dunks and layups for much of the game.
With matchups against fast-paced teams like the Hawks and potentially the Nets in the future for the Sixers, Philly needs to use this Wizards series to work on their transition defense before it becomes a serious issue.
5.) This Series Shouldn’t Be Close, and Game One Made That Even Clearer.
This game was closer than it needed to be, there’s no denying that. Even with that being said, I am even more confident this series ends in four or five games than I was before Sunday. The Sixers held a comfortable lead for all of the fourth quarter after their star player had to ride the bench for most of the game, with a bench struggling to produce offensively, and shooters not hitting threes until the second half.
On top of all of that, Bradley Beal went for 33 points and the Wizards shot 40 percent from three in the loss. While it will be harder to get wins on the road, the Sixers taking complete control of this game in the fourth after having to persevere through all of that is a great sign for the future of this series.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia 76ers, Matt Slocum.