Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons bounce back
In the second quarter Embiid blocked two shots in just six seconds, then later in the period he blocked an 11-foot Tim Frazier jumper and sprinted to the other end to turn the steal into a ferocious dunk off of a Ben Simmons feed. After a game when he was under the weather against Orlando, followed by a loss to the Cavaliers, Embiid bounced back to finish with 25 points and 14 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season to go with four blocks and a steal. Simmons had his lowest scoring output of the season against the Cavaliers with 10 points. That did not deter the rookie from coming out against the Wizards and immediately returning to his usual form. He finished with a career-high 31 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season to go with four assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Pace doesn’t slow down Sixers
The Sixers were once again forced to play a game filled with fouls, dead balls, a crazy amount of stoppage time, and a huge amount of half-court basketball. But like they did against Utah and Portland, the Sixers were able to win despite playing a slower pace than they prefer. They are clearly at their best when they are running, pushing, and racking up fast-break points, but the Sixers are continuing to prove that they can win no matter the pace. Additionally, an injury to T.J. McConnell (left shoulder contusion) meant the reserve unit didn't have the same fast-paced point running the show.
Amir Johnson defense
Through the first half, Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi were unable to score or get a rebound during the stretches when Johnson was on the floor. His defense and rebounding are the reasons that Brett Brown has given in explaining his decision to play Johnson over Richaun Holmes, and Wednesday those reasons made complete sense. He was smothering when he was on Gortat, not giving him more than an inch of breathing room. Johnson was scoreless but he finished with six rebounds, two assists, one block, and zero turnovers in 13:25 off the bench.
The Wizards are bad without John Wall
He's the guy that spaces the floor and demands the most attention from opposing teams. When he's not there, the entirety of their offense is slowed down and the usual open options are easily shut down. Washington loses his quickness, cutting, passing, and scoring ability when he isn't on the floor. There's no other way to look at it — the Wizards need Wall.
We've seen this in very small doses this season, but not at the level that the Wizards used it. Washington started to foul Simmons with with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left and they did not stop, forcing Simmons to the free throw line where he does not do well. The Wizards were able to cut a 14-point Sixers lead down to just three points using the hacking tactic and it even caused Embiid to gripe enough about the calls that he was called for a technical foul. Bottom line is, if the Sixers want to avoid this, then Simmons needs to learn to shoot free throws, and 15-of-29 won't be good enough in the future.