Washington Wizards

They didn't win in D.C. but Sixers know they may need to in playoffs

They didn't win in D.C. but Sixers know they may need to in playoffs


WASHINGTON — The Sixers’ 58th game of the regular season very well could have had playoff implications, or even been a preview of a postseason pairing. 

The Wizards (35-25) hold the fourth seed in the East, a coveted position for the last shot at home-court advantage. The Sixers (32-26) are two games behind them in seventh, a close but still significant differential with a tight battle among several teams. 

The Wizards kept their distance by snapping the Sixers’ seven-game winning streak, 109-94 (see observations)

“It’s a chance, depending on how the year plays out, we might cross match,” Robert Covington said. “You’ve got two unbelievable atmospheres with Washington and Philly. Home court is going to play a big part in it.”

The Sixers had reaped the benefits of a rare five-game homestand heading into the All-Star break. In fact, they have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018, feeding off the energy of their fans and the vibe in the city since the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The Sixers are embarking on a three-game road trip, though, against playoff-contending teams. They will have to play through adverse environments as they face the Heat on Tuesday and Cavaliers Thursday. 

“We’ve been undefeated at home for quite a bit now,” Joel Embiid said. “If you want to be a playoff team you’ve got to win those type of (home) games. But at the same time, you’ve got to go on the road and try to steal one.”

Stealing one on the road against the Wizards is something the Sixers have struggled to do in their last eight trips. They have not won in Washington since Nov. 1, 2013. 

They fell flat in their efforts Sunday. The Wizards led by as many as 23 points and squashed the Sixers’ late-game comeback attempt. Bradley Beal (24 points), Otto Porter Jr. (23 points) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (19 points) led the way as the Wizards improved to 9-3 without John Wall (left knee surgery). 

The highlight stat lines of Embiid (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (16 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) were outweighed by the team’s overall shooting struggles (36 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from three).

“I think we were never into the game, honestly,” Embiid said. “We didn’t make threes, we didn’t share the ball, we didn’t execute.” 

The season series between the Sixers and Wizards is tied up at two apiece. If they do face off in the playoffs, the Sixers will have to take care of business in Capital One Arena, home-court advantage or not.

“Sometimes it’s hard to explain,” Saric said of the Sixers’ struggles in Washington. “But I think if we play against them in (the) playoffs, I think we can beat them and we can beat them on their court.” 

Poof — Sixers' win streak vanishes in D.C.

Poof — Sixers' win streak vanishes in D.C.


WASHINGTON — The Sixers’ seven-game winning streak came to an end on the road Sunday at the hands of the Wizards, 109-94.

This matchup was a look ahead to a potential postseason matchup. The Sixers (32-26) are chasing the fourth seed, currently held by the Wizards (35-25), for homecourt advantage. They could have closed the gap on the two-game differential, but instead took a step back. 

The Sixers went into role reversal mode in the fourth. Just as the Magic had done to them the previous night, the Sixers tried to overcome a 23-point deficit with a late-game push. They got within eight points with under four minutes to go. 

The duo of starter Otto Porter Jr. (23 points) and reserve Kelly Oubre Jr. (19 points) set the tone of the game with a combined 32 points in the first half. Bradley Beal added another 24 points on the night to further separate the teams. 

The Sixers had not lost since Feb. 3, when they fell to the Pacers in Indiana. The Wizards continue to surge without All-Star John Wall (left knee surgery). They improved to 9-3 in his recent absence. 

• Joel Embiid continued to play on the second night of back-to-back series. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, his 31st double-double of the season. Embiid played through foul trouble after picking up his fourth two minutes into the third. 

• The Sixers had a rough night on the offensive end, shooting just 36 percent from the field while connecting on only nine of their 33 attempts from three-point range. The Wizards, on the other hand, shot at a 54.4 percent clip while connecting on 12 of their 25 threes.

• Marco Belinelli (10 points, 2-for-7 from three) played 25 minutes as he gets acclimated to his new teammates. Brett Brown believes Ben Simmons and Embiid will benefit from the spacing created by the veteran guard. 

“He’s a great cutter,” Simmons (16 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) said. “He can shoot the ball and his IQ is pretty good on the floor, so it just makes it easier for me.” 

• Brown went back to Amir Johnson as the first backup five off the bench. Richaun Holmes, who clocked 21 minutes Saturday, got 12 minutes in the second half, at times at the four alongside Embiid. 

• The Sixers could not capitalize on scoring 31 points off 19 Wizards turnovers. The Sixers gave up 17 points off 15 errors. 

• The Capital One Arena is the scene of Markelle Fultz’s opening night shooting struggles. Months later, he showed progress during drills before the game: 

• There always is a strong showing of Sixers fans in Washington, D.C. On Sunday they filled seats sporting jerseys ranging from Embiid and Simmons to Allen Iverson to Jrue Holiday. Fans loudly chanted “Trust the Process” and mixed in “E-A-G-L-E-S” every now and then. 

• Up next: The Sixers will travel to Miami to play the Heat Tuesday. Miami is currently in the eighth spot at 31-29. 

Challenging week ahead, but time for Sixers to feast after

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Challenging week ahead, but time for Sixers to feast after

The Sixers yawned their way to a 116-105 win over the Orlando Magic at home last night. Orlando put a half-scare into the Sixers by leaping out to a 15-6 lead over a sluggish-looking home team, but the Ballers quickly regained momentum — credit Brett Brown for having the instinct to put Richaun Holmes in off the bench for an energy boost, and credit Holmes for actually providing it — and then the Sixers cruised from there, with Joel Embiid putting up 28 points and 14 boards (on 10-17 FG) in 27 minutes, Robert Covington hitting four threes for the first time in a month and the bench doing just enough to keep the starters from having to re-enter in the fourth. 

It should have been an easy win against the Magic, and essentially, it was. The Sixers moved to 32-25 on the year, comfortably leading the reeling eight-place Heat by 2.5 games and ninth-place Pistons by 4.5 games in the East standings as of Sunday morning, winners of seven in a row and still undefeated at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018. Brown's crew has mostly made it look easy the last few weeks — but now it's about to get hard again. Briefly. 

Tonight, the Sixers kick off a three-game road trip in Washington, playing a Wizards team that was supposed to be an easy target for the Sixers to pass in the playoff race once star point guard John Wall was ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury. But backup point guard Tomas Satoransky has flourished in Wall's place, shooting guard Bradley Beal has emerged as fully weaponized and the Wizards have gone an improbable 8-3 in Wall's absence, still leading the Sixers by one game in the standings. 

The Sixers' other two games this trip are also against playoff competition — the 31-29 Heat and the 35-23 third-place Cavaliers — meaning postseason implications are aplenty over the next week. It could end with the red-hot Sixers finally being doused with cold water, or it could close with the Sixers making a serious push for home-court advantage in the first round. 

Either way, the trip stands as the last really challenging part of the Sixers' schedule. After this, the Sixers have 22 games remaining, only seven of which come against teams currently ticketed for the postseason — none against the top two squads in either conference and only two of which come back to back, when the Sixers host the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets in consecutive home games towards the end of March. Beside that, it's a whole lot of Hornets, Nets and Hawks for the Sixers, who've earned their chance to fatten up on the lottery-bound after a brutal schedule for the first 2/3 of the season.

It's worth taking a moment at this point to step back and appreciate the big picture here. Two seasons ago, the Sixers entered March still just hoping they would be able to win two more games all season to avoid historic infamy and ended up only barely able to do so. Now, they're not just in the playoff picture, they're a serious threat to enter the postseason as a first-round favorite while their three most productive players are all in their first or second year and their No. 1 overall pick from last season hasn't played since October. Remarkable stuff, and you only hope that all concerned can make it to the finish line with all limbs and appendages still functioning properly.