It’s painfully obvious that the Sixers aren’t playing their best basketball at the moment. The hope is that tonight’s game is a turning point. The Washington Wizards came to town tonight in a game where they only dressed 10 players, and that seems like the perfect opportunity for a get-right game to me, and just about anyone with two eyes and a brain. This game ended up being a little bit of everything — at points, it was tough to watch, and at other times, the Sixers looked like the team they were believed to be in the offseason. In the end, this all resulted in a 125-108 Sixers win.
This one started off with both teams trading baskets for the first few minutes until the Sixers really started to take control. Something that Philadelphia wasn’t able to do in their last matchup was overpower the Wizards down low with their size. That wasn’t the case tonight. With many of Washington’s big men missing, much of the Sixers’ offense came from around the rim. The Sixers started this one hitting six of their first nine shots on a Wizards team that didn’t use a zone defense, great for the team’s confidence early on after a few rough games. Sixers all-time great Anzejs Pasecniks got some run for the depleted Wizards, but even he couldn’t stop Philadelphia. After the first quarter, the Sixers felt in command, even if they only led 32-25.
Trey Burke took over the backup point guard role tonight and gave the team some strong minutes towards the end of the first and beginning of the second quarters. His offensive punch was needed off of the bench, as he chipped in with six points and four rebounds in the first half. The main talking point of the second quarter though was the giant run the Sixers went on to create some major separation. A 19-0 run by Philadelphia ballooned the lead to 22 in favor of the home team. The Sixers were able to hold Washington without a point for a very impressive six minutes by out-hustling and being more physical. Al Horford didn’t have the most efficient first half, but he had his fingerprints all over the game, constantly getting the first touch on a loose ball around the rim and making some nice passes. Everything seemed to be going right this quarter, and then, in true Sixers fashion, they decided to take their foot off the gas. This led to the Wizards cutting the lead back to 12 points in a game that should have been decided well before halftime.
To start the third quarter, the defensive energy from the Sixers continued to lack, just as it did during the big Wizards run to end the half. They allowed the Wizards to match their physicality on the boards and it resulted in open shots on the outside. Bradley Beal was a problem for the Sixers defense in the third. He scored 11 points in the quarter and showed exactly why he is considered one of the best guards in the league. The Wizards deployed a more natural zone defense instead of the hybrid type they used for portions of the first half, and once again, it gave the Sixers trouble on offense. By the end of the quarter, the Wizards were able to cut into the lead once again, making it just an eight-point game. The Sixers took an 88-80 lead into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, it looked like the Sixers remembered they were one of the better teams in the NBA. They thoroughly dominated for most of the final twelve minutes. Matisse Thybulle had been mostly quiet in this one until the fourth quarter, then he went crazy. Two 3-pointers and an emphatic slam cemented a Sixers win in this one. By the time all was said and done, the Sixers won handedly by a score of 125-108. Josh Richardson had a solid game and one that fans can hope to expect in the future after a short layoff for the shooting guard. He and Joel Embiid led the team with 21 points each and were able to hold off the best efforts of Bradley Beal with his 36 points for the Wizards.
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Sixers proved that sometimes they can win games purely based on the talent they have on their roster. Next up is a trip to Detroit to face the Pistons on Monday night. Hopefully, the team can use tonight as a springboard to get past their recent struggles heading into the holidays.