Three Normal Playoff Things: Sixers vs. Wizards Game Five
Three normal things.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He has been legally banned from covering the team in person, and when that ban was set to be lifted, Covid-19 struck. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
Welcome to another edition of Three Normal (Playoff) Things. You know the drill.
#1: Sixers feel the loss of Joel Embiid on defensive end
Of course, Joel Embiid’s absence will hamstring the Sixers in more ways than one. But tonight, where they struggled most was at the rim defensively. Without a stalwart rim protector like Embiid, it becomes much harder for the team’s ace perimeter defenders -- Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green -- to contain their high-level assignments in Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.
Of course, not having rim protection makes you susceptible to giving up points at the rim. But what it also does is force your defense to help, rotate, and allow an open three-point shot. Without their defensive anchor, the Sixers struggled mightily to get stops on a consistent basis.
This is going to be among the biggest issues for the Sixers for as long as Embiid is out of the picture. Their only available player capable of protecting the rim is Dwight Howard, who we’ve seen is typically incapable of playing extensive minutes because of the frequency with which he fouls.
So as the playoffs continue and the Sixers attempt to survive without Embiid, continue to watch for opponents to pressure the rim at a much higher rate.
#2: Tyrese Maxey shines
Outside of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, no player has been getting louder ovations from fans recently than Tyrese Maxey, as the energetic rookie has quickly become a fan favorite.
Maxey was on the outskirts of the rotation for much of the second half of the season. After a strong end to the year, Maxey’s play posed a question: did he do enough to make the playoff rotation? Maxey was indeed given a shot, and has done just about everything in his power to not just maintain his role, but expand it.
Tonight brought another chapter of his impressive rookie campaign: Maxey was the instant offense player off the bench the Sixers sorely needed. But it wasn’t a typical game for a rookie -- Maxey, barely older than a teenager, was entrusted with the keys to the offense repeatedly. Particularly in end of shot clock situations, Maxey was at the wheel, invigorating the team and crowd with the juice that comes from his energy.
#3: Sixers win series, 4-1
The series is over! The Sixers took four out of five against the pesky Wizards, who were always more fun than good, but a challenge in their own right. Whenever you’re going up against a scorer like Bradley Beal and a chaotic star like Russell Westbrook, nothing is going to come easy.
This has not been confirmed at the time of this writing, but it appears the Sixers will face the Atlanta Hawks in round two. With or without Embiid, that series should be at least a bit more contentious than this one. See you then!