Ultimately, game one of the Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers series is about what could have been expected. Washington didn’t play badly, and Philly didn’t play great, but the 76ers were the better team all season, and it showed.
Washington’s plan against Joel Embiid could use some revision. He finished the game with 30 points and committed 5 turnovers along the way. The focus on Embiid left ample openings for Tobias Harris (37 points), Danny Green (11 points on 6 shots), and Seth Curry (15 points on 13 shots).
Ben Simmons shot just 3-9 from the floor and 0-6 from the free throw line, but was still an above average contributor to the Philly win with 15 rebounds (8 on the offensive glass), 15 assists and just 2 turnovers.
The Wizards outshot Philadelphia (.602 effective field goal percentage to .548) but allowed 13 offensive rebounds, committed 15 turnovers, and were outshot from the free throw line 23-12. Washington’s hydra center approach combined for 12 fouls and gave Embiid 13 trips to the free throw line (he made 12).
For the Wizards, Bradley Beal was good despite subpar efficiency in tallying 33 points. He also had 6 assists and 10 rebounds. The assists were undermined by 6 turnovers.
Daniel Gafford was good — 12 points on 6 shots and 6 rebounds (2 offensive), but he committed 5 fouls in just 20 minutes.
Davis Bertans made threes (4-8), grabbed 5 defensive boards and gave a solid effort on defense.
That was about it for Wizards positives.
Russell Westbrook looked nervous in his playoffs debut for the Wizards. He totaled 16 points, 5 rebounds, 14 assists but shot just 7-17 and committed 6 turnovers.
Beal and Westbrook had 12 turnovers between them. The 76ers had 11.
What can the Wizards do to beat Philadelphia?
- Not a lot, probably. I don’t think Washington will get swept, but Philly has been a good team all season. They have three guys as (or more) productive as the Wizards’ two best players (Beal and Westbrook).
- Revise the defensive plan against Embiid. The Wizards wanted to double the Philly big on post touches with the PF — either Rui Hachimura or Davis Bertans. The theory is good, but neither is an effective defender, both took too long to arrive, and the tactic became predictable. Film review suggests they had success defending Embiid one-on-one.
- Focus on defense — the offense will take care of itself. Yesterday, Beal and Westbrook used 55 of the team’s 102 offensive possessions. Both posted below average efficiency. Don’t worry about it. Westbrook will bounce back (he always has), and Beal probably isn’t going to have another 6 turnover game.
- Resist any urge to expand the rotation. The only exception I’d consider would be minutes for Anthony Gill in place of Hachimura, Bertans or Neto/Ish Smith, but there’s realistically no way Scott Brooks and the Wizards are going that far out of the box. The roster is flawed, but there are no solutions until the offseason. Roll with the top 9 that got the team this far. I WOULD consider tightening the rotation by dropping Len or Lopez except for foul trouble.
Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).
I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.
PACE is possessions per 48 minutes.
Game 1: Wizards at 76ers
Scoreboard Impact Rating
Below are Scoreboard Impact Rating (SIR) results from last night’s game. It’s based on my PPA metric, but it shows each player’s TOTAL contribution for the game in terms of points on the scoreboard. This may make more sense for a single game — PPA is a per possession metric, which probably makes more sense over a larger sample size.
Since SIR is based on the PPA metric, it credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). The scale is points.
POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.
PTS = points scored
ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average this season is 112.3.
USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.
ORTG and USG were created by Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.
Game 1: Wizards SIR & ORTG
Game 1: 76ers SIR & ORTG