The 76ers played the worst of 22 teams in the NBA bubble, a Washington Wizards team that plays hard but was without significant talent.
Despite missing several key players, the Wizards seemed like the hungrier team. The Sixers needed an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter to take a 77-74 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Sixers finally turned it on and won, 107-98, but the same theme remains, they have a long way to go.
Here are some observations of the game.
Since the NBA restart, teams have been double-teaming and sometimes triple-teaming Joel Embiid when he touches the ball in the post.
The key for Embiid is recognizing the double team right away and passing to the open man. The Sixers’ first basket of the game was textbook in how to react to the double team by Embiid.
Embiid noticed the double team immediately and threw a cross-court pass to Josh Richardson, whose one-time pass found Shake Milton in the corner. A wide-open Milton then hit the three.
Early in the second quarter Embiid felt the double team and hit Alec Burks for a three. Embiid has been conscious of passing out of the double team better and has seemed to have better awareness and execution during the restart.
Less than 90 seconds into the game, Ben Simmons attempted a three-pointer from the left corner. The shot didn’t go in, but it looked like it had a chance when it left his hand. And the key was that there was little hesitation.
It was his first three-point attempt during the seeding games and just his seventh this season. The thinking is that people will play him tighter if he shoots more threes. No, that won’t happen until he begins making them, but still taking that early in the game was a positive sign because there is no telling where his game will go if teams have to respect the outside shot.
No matter what Brett Brown says about Furkan Korkmaz’s improved defense, he is on the court for his shooting. In Saturday’s 127-121 loss to Indiana, he looked uncomfortable and shot 0 for 4 from three-point range. He was 3 of 6 in Monday’s 132-130 win over San Antonio.
In the first quarter, he came in and hit 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. The key for Korkmaz is not hesitating and putting up the shot quickly.
Wizards guard Ish Smith has played with 11 teams, including the Sixers, whom he played for in two different stints.
How is the health of Simmons? He left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury and didn’t return.
One thing the Sixers have to work on is not allowing players to drive to the basket so freely. This play in particular came late in the first quarter.
Jerome Robinson went driving to the basket, got by Milton and scored while drawing the foul. Embiid was in the vicinity but there was no help on the play. Milton fouled Robinson, who converted the three-point play. The Wizards had a few of these drives, where the Sixers had to show better effort and help defense.
One of the Wizards players who really brought it was center Thomas Bryant. He scores the Wizards’ first seven points of the third quarter to get them back in the game.