Wizards

Wizards

The Washington Wizards season, along with the rest of the NBA, has been put on hold for at least 30 days due to the spread of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find out what might’ve happened in postponed games. In an effort to see how Wizards games could have played out, I started a season on the video game NBA 2K20 for the PlayStation 4 console. This also will allow us to see results of other games to determine how the final playoff picture could shake out.

There were several moments during Monday’s simulation against the Philadelphia 76ers where the final result didn’t seem so promising. First, there was the 17-point lead the Sixers were able to build in the first quarter. Then, after Washington was able to trim the deficit to 11 before the period ended, Philly pushed it back to 19 in the second quarter. Finally, after the Wizards came back to take the lead in the fourth, Tobias Harris hit a three with seven seconds left to force overtime.

The Sixers made four of the first five field goals by either team in the extra period, leading by as much as four points. But in the end, Bradley Beal’s huge night and the Wizards’ ability to get to the free throw line proved too much in a 137-129 win for the away team.

Beal finished with 45 points, his 11th game of the season with at least 40. He attempted, and made, 19 of the Wizards’ 48 free throw attempts. Washington is just the second team this season with as many attempts -- the Houston Rockets had 49 against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 27.

Philadelphia 76ers       34 25 27 33 10 [129]

Washington Wizards   23 26 34 36 18 [137]

Top Performers - Wizards

Bradley Beal: 45 Pts (12-29 FG), 6 Reb

Rui Hachimura: 17 Pts (5-9 FG), 8 Reb

Thomas Bryant: 17 Pts (7-12 FG), 21 Reb, 6 Blk

Shabazz Napier: 14 Pts (4-10 FG), 10 Ast


Top Performers - 76ers

Tobias Harris: 24 Pts, 9 Reb

Shake Milton: 21 Pts, 8 Ast

Al Horford: 19 Pts, 7 Reb

Joel Embiid: 18 Pts (8-12 FG), 27 Reb, 3 Stl, 5 Blk

Pace

The Wizards tried to play at their normal fast tempo to begin the game and they were being beat at it. Playing without the injured Ben Simmons, the 76ers hoisted 29 shot attempts -- a game-high for any quarter -- and made nearly half of them, including 3-of-5 three pointers. The Wizards made just 32% of their 25 attempts in the first quarter and none of their seven threes, so they attacked the basket more in the second quarter. Washington’s FG attempts dropped to 17 in the slower period, but they got to the free throw line for 18 attempts. Once back in the game, the Wizards sped up the pace again in the second half and had an easier time making shots. There was a reason for that... 

Foul Trouble

With the amount of free throw attempts the Wizards had, there was bound to be someone in foul trouble for the Sixers. Unfortunately for them, it was their best player. Joel Embiid had two fouls in the first quarter and four before the first half was over.

He was the best player on the floor when he was out there, but foul trouble limited him to 34 minutes (seven players had more minutes in the game). Lacking Ben Simmons’ defense on the perimeter made it difficult for the Sixers to keep the Wizards from penetrating. And once Embiid was in foul trouble, the Wizards kept attacking. They made 44 of the 48 free throw attempts. Embiid did a good job not to foul out until overtime, but those precious minutes throughout the game without him hurt Philadelphia. Tobias Harris also fouled out in overtime.


Resiliency

Fighting back from a nearly 20-point deficit isn’t anything new to these Wizards. We’ve seen them do it before this season, though not always in a win. This time they sealed the deal, and Beal was a big reason. Whenever the offense stalled and Washington needed a basket, the leader of the team was usually up to the challenge. He didn’t have the best game percentage-wise, but many of his shots came when they were most needed. Beal scored 35 of his 45 in the second half and OT, including 22 in the third quarter.

Next Game: The Wizards try for their first three-game winning streak of the season, against the Brooklyn Nets. This game is important for playoff seeding, as the Wizards can make up a full game on the Nets who are five games ahead of them for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

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