Despite the fact that he's not 100% and dealing with a hamstring strain, Bradley Beal continues to be on the forefront of the Sixers' minds.
The three-time All-Star stepped up in Game 1 of Washington's first-round series with one-seeded Philadelphia on Sunday for 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The Sixers owned the third-best defense in the NBA during the regular season and boast a rare amount of size along the perimeter.
Still, Beal couldn't be stopped from getting his in that first game and it earned him the respect of the opponent's locker room. Young defensive stalwart Matisse Thybulle went as far as comparing Beal to an X-Men villain on the offensive end.
“The dude’s an offensive juggernaut," Thybulle said ahead of Game 2. "We have Joel Embiid, but they have Bradley Beal. It’s tough and you see how much we got to throw at him just to try and slow him down and even then, it’s just trying to slow him down. He’s an incredible player.”
The Sixers were able to absorb Beal's stellar afternoon thanks to a lights out performance from Tobias Harris (37 points, 15-29 FG) and solid production from Joel Embiid despite a slow start (30 points, six rebounds).
Washington couldn't keep up with Beal being the only scorer on his game, and will need Russell Westbrook to rebound from an up-and-down first game if they have hopes of evening the series. However, Philly is well aware of what Westbrook is capable of when he has it going and the challenges he presents to an opposing defense.
“Westbrook’s difficult because he’s so fast you try to play off him a little bit, but by doing that, you open passing lanes for him to find guys, and he’s such an incredible passer that it’s also playing to one of his strengths," Thybulle said. “It’s trying to find this balance of, say, a cat and mouse trying to play close enough that he won’t just pick apart the defense. But also playing not far enough that he can’t just run through you and get to the hoop.”
The Wizards and Sixers are set to tip off at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia for Game 2 of the first round. If Philly wins, the Wizards will have to win both games at home in order to stay competitive in the series.