The Philadelphia 76ers have strung together some increasingly encouraging performances on their way to a league-best 6-1 record. They started their season with a 113-107 win against Washington, and now the Sixers will be welcoming the Wizards back to Wells Fargo Center to bring their current three-game home stretch to a close.
Except for an ugly 118-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Sixers have got off to a really strong start. They’re leading the NBA in defensive rating at 99.4 (Cleveland is 2nd at 102.8), Joel Embiid has been brilliant, Seth Curry has been doing everything the Sixers could ask for with incredible efficiency (he’s averaging career-highs of 15.4 points and 3.7 assists per game with a 75.5 True Shooting Percentage), Tobias Harris is playing with far more decisiveness and upping his game at both ends of the floor, and the team’s ball movement and offense overall has been improving.
They’ve also, for the most part, maintained consistent effort and haven’t been playing down to their opposition, which was a problem throughout last season. In other words, the Sixers should be in good shape to handle the Wizards again. Philly wasn’t amazing in the season opener and only shot 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) from three, but they still handled the Wizards, led by Embiid dominating with 29 points (10-of-17 shooting), 14 rebounds and a pair of assists. The Wizards don’t have anyone who can do much to slow Embiid down, so he should be able to continue his stellar start to the season if he’s aggressive.
The Wizards have won two straight games heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the Sixers, after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 130-109, and Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets, 123-122. However, the Wizards are still just 2-5 for the season and sit at 13th in the Eastern Conference, suffering most from their unsurprisingly poor defense which ranks just 27th so far.
Russell Westbrook’s cold shooting hasn’t helped either — he’s averaging 20.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game, but shooting 43 percent on two-pointers, 22.7 percent from three, and 69 percent from the free throw line, resulting in a dismal 45.3 True Shooting Percentage.
The Wizards still have a feisty, 9th-ranked offense, though, led by Bradley Beal, who scored 31 points against Philly in the season opener and is averaging 30.6 points a night with a 56.9 True Shooting Percentage through seven games. Davis Bertans is always a serious threat to go off from three as well, despite him starting the season with a cold spell. Matisse Thybulle has received extra playing time in Furkan Korkmaz’s absence, so some possible minutes against Beal with a chance to showcase his defense could be another chance for Thybulle to earn more time.
If the Sixers want to keep adding to their cushion with the best record in the East, they need to bring a good effort against the Wizards before a tougher stretch of games begins. After concluding a back-to-back tomorrow against the Durant-less Nets on the road, some of their opponents for the rest of the month include Denver, Miami (twice), Boston (twice), the Lakers, and Indiana.
Who: Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic