Wizards endure insult on top of injury on top of 2-0 series deficit against 76ers

May 26, 2021 | Deni Avdija

After nearly pulling off a Game 1 comeback upset, the Washington Wizards were confident entering Game 2 in their first-round series against the one-seed Philadelphia 76ers. That was far from the outcome as the Wizards shot a miserable 40 / 9 / 63 percentage from the field, three, and free throw lines, respectively. In addition to the home team playing stifling defense, the 76ers offense made easy work out of Washington’s defense. The Wizards head home down 2-0 in the series vs. Philadelphia after a 120-95 beatdown loss following in the trend the Heat and Celtics started in their series as underdogs.

With Tobias Harris looking like Michael Jordan and Joel Embiid hitting clutch shot after clutch shot in Game 1, the Wizards missed their opportunity to steal a game on the road to really make things an interesting series. 76ers head coach Doc Rivers admitted, “Washington definitely got our attention by the way they played” before Game 2. As good teams do, Philadelphia took it up another level in Game 2 and left no doubt by leading for all but 43 seconds.


Russell Westbrook left the game with a right ankle injury that is unlikely to fully heal before Game 3 in three days, but he has often played through ailments in the past including a torn quad early this season. Adding insult on top of injury, a 76ers fan poured popcorn on Westbrook as he went to the locker room in pain. Nonetheless, Washington will not be successful with their point guard scoring 10 points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field with four turnovers. Much like the past three seasons, Bradley Beal is without enough help. The NBA’s second-leading scorer has dropped 33 points in back-to-back games despite 1-for-6 shooting from three each game and the 76ers’ defense hounding him every second. No other Wizards has 33 points in the first two games combined with Westbrook the closest at 26.


There is no easy solution to defending Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, or Joel Embiid especially with the Wizards lacking defensive size outside of Rui Hachimura who again got into foul trouble this post-season during Game 2. With Deni Avdija sidelined for the rest of the season with a right fibular hairline fracture, Scott Brooks has been rolling out a three-guard starting lineup that practically puts 6-foot-1 Raul Neto at small forward. Avdija would not have solved all of Washington’s current dilemmas but would have added size needed to contend with one of the biggest and more physical teams in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, Brooks said everything is on the table for Game 3 when asked about a potential lineup change, but it remains to be seen what adjustments the Wizards can make to turn the tide.


Washington will hope to miraculously even up the series the same way they did their last two playoffs vs. Boston in 2017 and vs. Toronto in 2018, but this time will no doubt be the most difficult. Games 3 and 4 from Capital One Arena will be on Saturday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

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