Sixers Dominate to Take 3-0 Series Lead
It is a well-worn adage that the odd games are most pivotal in a playoff series. The Sixers were dominant versus the Wizards Saturday evening, taking a commanding 3-0 lead. With a loss, the series would have been 2-1, which Doc Rivers said, "After three games of a series were 2-1, it literally can't be any closer."
Earlier in the season, when asked his thoughts on the modern era of load management, Doc Rivers said, "Old school load management, you know, that's how we load manage in our day our coaches tell us you get a big lead you can go sit down" The Sixers starters were crushingly dominant to the point where Isaiah Joe has made appearances in the first-round playoff series.
It sounds obvious and silly, but it's true. No team in NBA history has overcome a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series, and only three times has a team forced a game 7. The last NBA team to force a game seven after being down 0-3 was the Portland Trailblazers in 2003. So a 3-0 lead tends to lead to a sweep or five-game gentleman's sweep, where a 2-1 lead tends to lead to a long series. The Sixers, who have punished the Wizards' lack of wing defenders in the first ttwo games, walked into the arena in the nation's capitol, seeking to win in Washington for just the first time since the very beginning of the process era.
Historically the D.C. crowd tends to lack life, but a playoff environment should not force the team to manufacture energy. On Saturday, however, the announced crowd of 10,000 was alive and well, cheering baskets made on both sides.
The 76ers fans comprised a significant minority of the crowd but made themselves heard after every 76ers basket, and in the first half, the 76ers gave them plenty to cheer for.
Joel Embiid was dominant in the first half, scoring 25 points on just 13 shots, including a thunderous dunk late in the half, where he walked to the corner of the court and challenged the crowd to boo him.
Aside from Embiid, Danny Green was on fire from three-point range, going 5 of 8 from a distance for 15 points. As a team, the Sixers starters got virtually any shot they wanted and shot 57.4% from the field and 47.4% from three. When asked after the game, Ben Simmons talked about how he can tell his teammates are feeling it.
"Danny loves a corner three, loves a trail three. Tobias likes going downhill, and he also likes the trail three. Joel is always going to do his thing in the post; he caught fire for the top three. So, wherever I can find them when they are open. I love to let them see the let it fly."
The second half continued the rout, with the 76ers bench playing the lion share of 4th quarter minutes. In all, 14 76er players played at least 2 minutes, and 12 Sixers players scored in the 132-103 dismantling of a Wizards team that looks to have lost its mojo after a furious charge to qualify for the 8th seed.
When asked about the bench performance and their ability to allow the starters to rest most of the second half, Rivers said, "It's really important obviously in the regular season, when you can do that as well, so kudos to them. I thought the bench struggled in the first half.
And then I thought the second half they got it together."
The Sixers have an opportunity for a series sweep Monday evening in Washington D.C.