The Philadelphia 76ers (15-7) cruised to a 146-101 win over the Washington Wizards (3-19) on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Joel Embiid led the way with 34 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Tyrese Maxey added 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with six assists. The Sixers shot 54.7% from the field and 43.5% from beyond the arc.
The Wizards were led in the losing effort by Kyle Kuzma’s 21 points and nine rebounds. Bilal Coulibaly added in 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists off the bench. Washington was without Daniel Gafford (right hip contusion), Delon Wright (left knee sprain), Landry Shamet (right rib sprain), Ryan Rollins (right knee strain) and Johnny Davis (left calf strain).
The Sixers’ next matchup is on the road against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Here are some instant observations from the blowout win over the Wizards:
The Sixers missed their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc against the Wizards last week. Things went much differently in this game. The Sixers opened up the game on a 12-0 run powered solely by the 3-pointer. Maxey began the game on fire from deep, drilling a trio of triples in the opening minute and a half of the game. He was not the only one to have success from beyond the arc in the opening quarter. Pat Beverley added a nice spark off the bench late in the quarter, scoring a quick nine points all from the 3-pointer. The Sixers scored a season-high 43 points in the opening quarter powered by a 9-of-15 performance from 3-point range.
The 3-pointer was key to Maxey’s big performance against the Wizards. However, he also continued to find success when attacking the basket. The Wizards’ defense was overwhelmed for much of the night between the Sixers’ hot shooting, Embiid’s dominance around the paint and Maxey’s efficient scoring from all levels. In a testament to his efficiency, Maxey finished the game with 24 points despite playing just 25 minutes. After being in a mini-funk over the past couple weeks, Maxey has effectively regained his typical form. Over the last two games, he has connected on nine of his 17 attempts from long distance.
The Wizards are not equipped to effectively defend Embiid even when at full strength. Ditto for when they are without their starting center. Washington’s strategy early on was to do all they could to prevent Embiid from beating them. They crashed down around Embiid whenever he touched the ball, forcing the ball out of his hands. Embiid, who has improved both in his passing ability as well as in reading opposing defenses, settled for setting up his teammates for open jumpers around the perimeter. The Sixers put on a clinic in the first half in terms of how to play around Embiid, using his dominant floor presence and good ball movement to carve up an atrociously bad Wizards defense.
Due to the team’s aforementioned hot shooting, the Wizards were eventually forced to take some of their defensive attention away from the big fella. Embiid took advantage, getting to his spots around the paint and scoring over Washington’s smaller defenders. Embiid feasted against the combination of Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari and whomever else Washington threw at him. The only thing slowing Embiid down in this game was himself. He committed a handful of poor turnovers, whether due to miscommunications or needlessly attempting fancy passes. However, the Sixers fortunately took care of business against the Wizards and did not need a perfect effort from Embiid.
This was one of the Sixers’ better defensive games of the season. They played pesky defense, forcing 22 Washington turnovers. De’Anthony Melton was at the center of their defensive success, playing with his typical high activity level and recording five steals. It was not Melton’s best game offensively, as evidenced by shooting 2 of 11 from the field and just 1 of 7 from 3-point range. However, in a testament to his versatility he still managed to make a positive impact in this game. In addition to the five steals, he grabbed three rebounds and dished out five assists.
The Sixers received contributions from all throughout the roster. Their second unit, which is vastly improved from prior seasons, contributed 67 points in the win over the Wizards. Marcus Morris Sr. continued his strong play of late, scoring an efficient 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field. Robert Covington added in eight points, four rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes. With the way Morris and Covington have been playing, head coach Nick Nurse needs to find a way to consistently give both of them minutes.
Paul Reed, after being benched in the second half of the team’s previous game against the Atlanta Hawks, recovered and put together an effective all-around performance. He filled up the stat sheet with four points, six rebounds and three assists in 13 minutes. Due to their large lead, the Sixers were able to empty out the bench in the fourth quarter. Mo Bamba took advantage of the opportunity, tallying six points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in seven minutes.