The Philadelphia 76ers will take the court Wednesday evening for their second attempt at claiming a playoff series victory over the Washington Wizards. Up on the Wiz by a count of three games to one, the Sixers are in the driver’s seat but they are coming off their first loss of the series. The Wizards are playing with their backs against the wall, one loss from ending their season.
In game four of the series, the Sixers looked to complete a sweep of Washington on the Wizards’ turf. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Joel Embiid left the game early with knee soreness, never to return. The absence of Embiid proved to be too much to overcome as the Sixers failed to score efficiently and produce key defensive stops late in the game.
So, the Sixers get another shot at wrapping up the series — this time at home Wednesday evening. Will they have access to the services of one Joel Embiid? His status for the game is yet to be made official, but the latest is that Embiid is doubtful for game five, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Woj's update on Embiid:— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) June 1, 2021
"I'm told largely there's optimism around the knee, that this is not a serious injury, this is not necessarily something that's going to keep him out. But there's more testing that's going to be done." https://t.co/uyr8ybdH7K
The Wizards are also dealing with an injury, as Davis Bertans has been ruled out for the remainder of the series with a grade 2 calf strain, per Woj.
Without Embiid, it will beinteresting to see how Doc Rivers alters his rotation. Dwight Howard has served as next-man-up at center when Embiid is unavailable. However, Howard and Ben Simmons just do mesh well on the floor — the Sixers had a -10.1 point differential over 743 possessions in the regular season when the two shared the floor. Alternatively, we’ve seen the Sixers go smaller with Mike Scott at the five with Simmons instead of Howard. Those lineups seem to be more sustainable, though they’re far from perfect.
If Philadelphia is able to end the series Wednesday evening, they can begin to look forward to the next round of playoffs, when they will take on the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-New York Knicks series (Hawks currently lead 3-1). If Washington can prolong the series, the Sixers will have to travel to Washington for a game six and try it again.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards
When: 7:00 pm ET, June 2nd
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia (local), NBA TV (national)
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic