The Philadephia 76ers came away with a hard-fought Game 1 victory over the Washington Wizards in part to a playoff career-best from Tobias Harris.
Harris had the hot hand the entire game, going for 37 points to set the tone in this series. Joel Embiid added 30 points while Ben Simmons chipped in playoff career-highs of 15 assists and 15 rebounds to overcome a 33-point performance from Bradley Beal.
For more on this contest, we have you covered with some takeaways below.
1. Harris on the attack for playoff career-high
With Embiid facing foul trouble in the first half, the 76ers desperately needed a jolt of offence and Harris provided exactly that.
The star forward, who has been a key constant for Philly all season, got out to a roaring start, going for 28 points on super efficient 12-for-19 shooting from the field. He was the only 76ers player in double figures and his aggressive scoring approach allowed his team to maintain a halftime lead despite Embiid only playing 10 minutes.
Harris did nearly all of his damage right at the rim, with Washington providing very little resistance in the paint on the 28-year-old.
He hardly cooled off in the second half, finishing with 37 points while shooting 15-for-29 from the field and 2-for-5 from 3. Scoring with ease, Harris had the Wizards' defence on their heels all game.
Ladies and gentlemen,- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 23, 2021
Tobias Harris. pic.twitter.com/nI42GkB47L
He added six rebounds, two assists and two steals to his playoff career-best scoring total.
2. Beal and Westbrook duo
It has become very clear that the Wizards will go as far as the Beal and Westbrook duo will take them.
The two combined for 44 points, 23 rebounds and 11 assists in the team's Play-In loss to the Boston Celtics, then provided a similar output to get Washington into the playoffs, combining for 43 points, 19 assists and 13 rebounds in a win over the Indiana Pacers.
In Game 1 against the 76ers, Beal proved exactly why he is one of the league's most unstoppable scorers, going off for 33 points to try and keep his team alive.
17 points in the 3rd for Brad!#WizSixers | @RealDealBeal23 pic.twitter.com/cG4R4VWvfM- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 23, 2021
Westbrook, on the other hand, didn't score very efficiently, going for just 16 points while shooting 7-for-17 from the field. He did a great job of setting the table for the Wizards offensively, dishing out 15 assists, but the team needed more points from their other superstar to keep up with Philly's scoring attack.
Beal and Westbrook are going to have to put up astronomical numbers if Washington is going to compete in this series.
3. Embiid overcomes slow start
Embiid is seen as the biggest mismatch in this series with Washington's only answer(s) for the MVP candidate being Alex Len, Daniel Gafford and Robin Lopez. In the first half, that trio's physical play, going at Embiid with every opportunity, put the 76ers star in foul trouble early, only allowing him to play 10 minutes total in the first half.
Embiid entered the halftime break with just nine points and three rebounds, hardly making his impact felt compared to his usual standards.
He would break out with more freedom in the second half, finishing with 30 points, six rebounds, three assists and one block. Once the 76ers' shooters started knocking down perimeter shots, making it tougher for the Wizards to double down on Embiid in the post, the All-Star big man began to get some easier baskets around the rim.
Washington did as well of a job as it could have asked on Embiid, and yet, he still notched 30 points.
It may be a long series for that frontcourt defensively.
4. Simmons notches playoff career-highs in assists and rebounds
When you look at the box score and see that Simmons only had six points while shooting 3-for-9 from the field, don't let that fool you into thinking he didn't leave his mark on this game.
Simmons notched playoff career-highs in both assists (15) and rebounds (15), all while taking on the near-impossible task of trying to slow down the league's second-leading scorer in Beal.
He was keeping plays like this one below alive, finding open shooters off of a number of his eight offensive rebounds.
🎯 @sdotcurry 🎯 pic.twitter.com/265Ch9BScg- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 23, 2021
One area that will need improvement moving forward in this series, though, was going 0-for-6 from the free throw line. Despite a lack of a scoring presence, Simmons still made his impact felt on this contest.
5. Curry's third quarter flips the script
Seth Curry was almost non-existent in the first half, scoring zero points on three shots in 15 minutes before heading to the locker room early after taking a shot to the stomach that knocked the wind out of him.
He would return to action to start the second half and that gut check appeared to have woken up the sharpshooter, because his third-quarter outburst completely changed the momentum of the game.
Curry would knock down three 3s in the third frame, scoring 11 points to give the 76ers a lead going into the final frame.
LOOK AT SETH CURRY, MAN. pic.twitter.com/LpttvWDvcV- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 23, 2021
6. Bertans finally gets going
The Wizards paid a hefty price of five years, $80 million for Bertans this past offseason, retaining one of the league's most prolific 3-point shooters. In the team's first two Play-In games, Bertans was far from that title, going a combined 2-for-13 (15.4%) from 3-point range.
Failing to find his shooting stroke, Washington desperately needed the 28-year-old to get in rhythm and he finally did that in Game 1.
Bertans went for 11 points while shooting 3-for-4 from 3 in the first half alone, surpassing his 3-point total in both Play-In games.
He would finish with 14 points going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, and while it wasn't enough to take the Wizards over the top for a win, it's an encouraging sign to see that he was able to double his number of 3-pointers made in the two Play-In games.
7. What's next?
The 76ers and Wizards will have two days off before retaking the floor in Philadelphia on Thursday, May 27 (IST).
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