Once again, today, the Sixers faced off against a team they ought to have handled quite seamlessly. The Washington Wizards are easily the worst team in the Orlando bubble (with respect to the Brooklyn Nets). The Sixers, of course, played down to their competition once again, and let the Wizards remain in the game through much of the fourth quarter.
The Sixers’ defense today was certainly improved from its first two contests against Indiana and San Antonio. As a team, the Sixers held the Wizards to only 42 percent shooting. High man in the game for Washington was a two-way tie between center Thomas Bryant and guard Jerome Robinson at 19 points.
For the Sixers, the good news has been and remains that Joel Embiid looks dominant through three Orlando games. Today, he racked up a stat line of 30 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. The big man looks excellent, and has offensively carried the squad through dry spells, not only with his post-game supremacy, but by making smart reads and passes when he’s been double-teamed. The Sixers’ backcourt had their second consecutive impressive game after a dud versus Indiana: Shake Milton shot 4-of-7 for 14 points, and Josh Richardson went 5-of-9 for 15 points. Al Horford also had his second straight productive game, following his plus-17 effort against San Antonio with a plus-18 today against Washington.
And now on to Ben Simmons. Simmons looked much better defensively in the first half. He hounded Rui Hachimura (2-of-11) and showed good energy and aggressiveness. His shot was not falling unfortunately, as Simmons went only 2-of-10 from the field and 4-of-8 from the line. He did attempt a first-quarter 3-pointer, which Sixers fans, players and coaches love to see.
The bad news came in the third quarter, when Simmons corralled an offensive rebound, threw in inlet pass to Al Horford, and then limped off the court and immediately into the tunnel to be examined by the team’s medical staff. Later, the team confirmed that Simmons would be out for the rest of the game while being evaluated for a left knee injury.
While all Sixers fans continue to hold their breath and wait for a definitive diagnosis on Ben’s knee, this report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided a glimmer of light which will *hopefully* serve as a good omen that the impending news is not catastrophic:
Early indications on Ben Simmons are encouraging — no swelling or pain in left knee after leaving court, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 5, 2020
*Fingers crossed emoji.*
Next up, the Sixers face the Orlando Magic on Friday. We’ll see you then.