The Washington Wizards had no answer for Joel Embiid in Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday night; the MVP finalist shot 14/18 from the field, including 3/4 from three-point range to score a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes of action as the 76ers defeated Washington 132-103 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
With the victory, Philadelphia takes a commanding 3-0 lead with a chance to sweep the series on Monday night. Every player in Philly’s starting lineup scored in double figures. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Danny Green added 15 points, including five threes.
Philadelphia shot 58% from the field on Saturday night and shot 51% from three-point range(17/33).
Washington cannot do anything to slow Embiid down. The four-time All-star is averaging 29.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in this series. There was a big crowd at Capital One Arena for the first time this season, and at times, you could hear “MVP’ chants for Embiid in D.C.
“I can’t imagine anybody playing better than him,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about Embiid. “That was MVP-level tonight. Tried different things on him tonight. Good player. He’s definitely a handful.”
Bradley Beal, who had 25 points in Game 3, talked about the greatness of Embiid.
“He’s a special talent,” Beal said. “You gotta respect him and tip your cap to him. Our whole game plan is basically centered around him. He’s a three-level scorer. He can score from outside on the three. He’s not like most bigs in the league; he can put the ball on the floor, shoot 3s, plays like a guard. It’s kind of crazy.”
Russell Westbrook(ankle) was a game-time decision, and to no one’s surprise, the former MVP played in Game 3 and had a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
“I kind of knew after last game he was going to play,” Beal said. “Even if it was for two minutes, he was going to play.”
Now, the Wizards try to avoid the sweep on Monday night, which won’t be easy. Washington has many questions but little to no answers for what Philly is throwing at them. They tried to insert Davis Bertans in the lineup to get more size and shooting, but that did not work as the team shot 8/35 from three-point range.
Philly is just a bad matchup for Washington. Including the regular season, the 76ers are 6-0 against the Wizards. Even a 60-point outburst from Beal in the regular season was not enough to beat Philadelphia, so it’s going to take an extraordinary performance from a few different players for Washington to get a game in this series.
On Wednesday night, in Game 2 of the Wizards, 76ers first-round series, the versatility of Ben Simmons was on full display. Simmons scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out eight assists, and had two steals as the 76ers routed the Wizard 120-95 at Wells Fargo Center.
Philly now leads this best of seven series 2-0. Game 3 is on Saturday night in D.C. Joel Embiid added 22 points, and Tobias Harris chipped in with 19 points for Philadelphia.
For Washington, Bradley Beal had a game-high 33 points.
Simmons set the tone for Philadelphia early. He scored 12 points in the first quarter, and the 76ers led 35-24 after one. The 76ers pushed their lead to 71-57 at halftime. Philadelphia led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter and by as many as 27 points in the game.
During the regular season, Washington was third in points per game(116.6), but they were held to 95 points and shot 40% from the field in Game 2, including 2-22 from the three-point range.
There was more bad news for the Wizards as they lost Russell Westbrook, who had 10 points and 11 assists on Wednesday night, to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Westbrook did not return.
On his way to the locker room, a fan threw popcorn on the nine-time All-Star. Westbrook had to be held back by security. Ultimately, the fan was ejected.
“I wouldn’t come up to me on the street and throw popcorn on my head because you know what happens,” Westbrook said after the game about the incident. “In these arenas, you gotta start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”
Unfortunate situation, and something we see far too often at NBA arenas. Fortunately for Westbrook, security was able to hold him back.
Washington will have to figure out what they can do to get back into this series. Clearly, Philadelphia is the better team, but maybe the Wizards can make some adjustments to steal a game or two. The Wizards have won 13 of their last 16 home games since March 18, so possibly, there is a little hope.
Former NBA player Shawn Bradley announced via the Dallas Mavericks that he is paralyzed. The 48-year-old Bradley, who spent 14 seasons in the NBA with the 76ers, Nets, and Mavericks, was recently involved in a bike accident.
Below is a statement from Bradley via the Dallas Mavericks:
“Shawn Bradley released the first public details today of the accident that he suffered on January 20, 2021. Bradley, the 7’6” former NBA player with the Dallas Mavericks, was struck from behind by an automobile while riding his bicycle a mere block from his home in St. George, Utah. The accident caused a traumatic spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. After undergoing neck fusion surgery, Bradley has spent the last eight weeks hospitalized and undergoing rehabilitation.
Bradley, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spent two years performing missionary work in Australia after his freshman year at Brigham Young University. Following his mission, Bradley was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the number two pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, but he spent the majority of his career with the Dallas Mavericks. His very strong sense of faith is being tested as he participates in grueling physical therapy and learns how to cope with the challenges of paraplegia. Doctors have advised him that his road to recovery will be both long and arduous, perhaps an even more difficult physical challenge than playing professional basketball.
With his wife Carrie at his side around the clock, and supported by an amazing team of rehabilitation specialists and family, Bradley is in good spirits. He plans to use his accident as a platform to bring greater public awareness to the importance of bicycle safety.
Bradley asked to convey his deep appreciation for the outpouring of well wishes and prayers he has received from family, friends and fans. Their support has energized his recovery and bolstered his confidence that he will manage the long process ahead successfully. He does not plan to issue further public updates, preferring to devote his full concentration on his rehabilitation.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:
“We are saddened to hear of Shawn’s accident. Shawn has always been incredibly determined and shown a fighting spirit. We wish him nothing but the best in his recovery. He will always be a part of our Mavs family.”
Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Shawn’s injury and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. In his eight-plus seasons in Dallas, Shawn demonstrated all of the qualities you want in a person representing your organization. He has always exhibited unwavering grit and determination and we are thinking of him at this difficult time. He is a Maverick for life.”
Before the 76ers blew out the Spurs, 134-99 on Sunday night in Philadelphia, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gave his thoughts on 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons.
The three-time All-Star is having another stellar season. Simmons is averaging 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game and is one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year. However, as good as Simmons has played this season, he still does not take many shots from the perimeter. In four seasons, Simmons is only 4-31 from three-point range.
Can Simmons be an elite player without shooting jump shots? According to Popovich, he can.
“It would enhance his game, obviously, that can’t be argued with,” Popovich said. “But his skills and all of his physical skills, basketball skills, the way he understands the game, as unselfish as he is, he’s elite already. Who gives a damn if he can’t shoot?”
Without Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris had 23 points, and Seth Curry poured in 21 points, and of course, Simmons had another solid all-around game with 14 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. San Antonio(19-16) was outscored 46-21 in the third quarter and trailed by 33 points entering the fourth quarter. Philadelphia(27-12) led by as much as 42 points in the game.
San Antonio will quickly have to forget about this loss as they travel to Detroit to battle the Pistons on Monday night.
Watch as Popovich talks Simmons:
Mavericks F/C Kristaps Porzingis(questionable) could return on Saturday night as the team travels to Brooklyn to battle the Nets. Porzingis missed the past three games with lower back tightness, including the team’s 111-97 road loss to the 76ers on Thursday night.
During his time away from the floor, rumors surfaced that the Mavericks were quietly shopping the fifth-year player. However, the Mavericks organization quickly said that was not the case.
On Friday, the 25-year-old Porzingis, who the Mavericks acquired from the Knicks in 2019, addressed the trade rumors.
“As I said, it kind of like came out. It is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I shouldn’t be too worried about it. It could only distract me at the end of the day. I try to focus on being in the moment, being here day-to-day, putting in the work with my teammates, and getting better as a basketball player at the end. That’s it.
“As I said, there’s not much I can do at this point. Just focused on playing, playing well, and getting wins.”
Porzingis missed time to start the season after coming off knee surgery. In 17 games, he’s averaging 20.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. He’s under contract until 2023(player option 23-24 season) after signing—a five-year, $158 max contract with the Mavericks back in 2019.
Dallas’ two best players are Luka Doncic and Porzingis, and both are young. Porzingis’ injury history is concerning, but his skill set is tremendous, and both he and Doncic(21 years old) are young, so it’s probably in the team’s best interest to let these two grow together.
The Cleveland Cavaliers(13-21) went into Philadelphia on Saturday night and may have gotten their best win of the season. Behind a combined 53 points from the backcourt of Collin Sexton(28) and Darius Garland(25), the Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 112-109 in OT.
Philadelphia(22-12) is the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but for the second time this season, Cleveland was able to defeat Philadelphia. After losing ten straight, the Cavaliers have now won three in a row.
Garland, who added nine assists to go along with his 25 points on Saturday night, believes beating Philadelphia is a great step in the right direction.
“It’s just another step in the right direction,” Garland said after the game. “We have a lot of growing to do; but beating the number one team in the East is really good. We just have to keep this going, keep the momentum going, and hopefully, we can carry it to All-Star break and after the All-Star break.”
Cavaliers head coach J.B, Bickerstaff felt defense was one of the keys for Cleveland in this victory. Cleveland held Philadelphia to a season-low 47 points in the first half.
“Anytime you get a tough win like this, it validates what you are capable of, and our guys I thought tonight were really good defensively against a high-powered offensive team,” Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, Embiid(42 points) is a handful, Ben Simmons(24 points), obviously, All-Star caliber player. I thought our guys did a really good job defensively.”
To beat a team like Philadelphia, you have to fight, and Cleveland showed that fight and grit, which Garland discussed after the game.
“We’re just growing every day,” he said. “Every opportunity we get, we’re going to take the opportunity to take the challenge. I think that’s one thing about our team; we are going to fight most of the time.”
Adversity can bring the best out of teams, and it appears the Cavaliers have grown from the adversity, and while losing ten consecutive games is never good, it might have been what the Cavs needed to turn things around.
On Wednesday, Russell Westbrook made his Wizards’ debut on the road against the 76ers, and while he had a triple-double(21 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds), Washington(0-1) would fall to the 76ers(1-0) 113-107.
The 32-year-old Westbrook, who came over to Washington from Houston in the trade that sent John Wall to the Rockets earlier this month, was disappointed in himself after the game.
“Not good enough. Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed in myself,” Westbrook said. “I had some mishaps and plays where I could have been better and had a better game to try to win. I don’t like moral victories at any point in my career. I always like to go out and try to win the game. I’ve gotta be better, and I’ll be better next game.”
Last season, moral victories were acceptable for the Wizards, who won only 25 games a year ago. However, this year is a different story. With Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans on the court, Washington is looking to make the playoffs, and like Westbrook, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is not interested in moral victories.
“The results matter. We’re not happy. There’s no moral victories,” Brooks said. “Last year, I thought we had just a different mindset. Not good or bad, we were just in a different place. This year, there are no moral victories. We have to come out and keep competing.”
Washington played well against the 76ers and had a legitimate chance to win the game, but they could not make the plays and get the stops down the stretch to get the victory.
In a loss, it’s clear that this team is going to put up points. Beal, who led the way with 31 points against Philadelphia, averaged 30.5 ppg last season. Also, Bertans scored 14 points, including 4-6 from downtown. He would only play 20 minutes, which was due to him being on a minutes restriction. So, scoring points won’t be an issue for Washington, especially when the team starts to gel.
On another note, we might be seeing a lot of triple-doubles out of Westbrook this season. The 12-year veteran is second in NBA history in triple-doubles(147). According to Elias Sports Bureau, Westbrook is the 6th player in NBA history with a triple-double in his team debut. With all the scoring they have on this team, Washington could offer Westbrook an opportunity for many assists. Furthermore, without a big-time rebounder on this roster(Thomas Bryant led the team with 7.2 RPG last season), Westbrook will get his rebounds, and he’s most definitely going to score. Based on this roster, if Westbrook remains healthy, he might mess around and average a triple-double this season for the fourth time in his career.