Following last night’s 120-95 blowout win over the Wizards, it sure feels like the Sixers have their brooms packed for DC this weekend. Sure, a series may not truly start until the road team wins, but is there really any reason to doubt the eventual outcome here?
Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons each delivered for the second game in a row—combining for 63 points on 28/40 shooting (70%)—with ample contribution from the supporting cast (hold for Shake Milton). In a Playoffs full of tight series, this one (and Brooklyn/Boston) feels like the clear exception.
Other than the raucous Philly crowd of 11,000+ inside the Wells Fargo Center, this matchup hasn’t had the playoff vibe to it that some anticipated. But that’s ok—the Sixers earned this luxury. While I could argue that the team may be better served in the long run by playing in a more competitive first round series (iron sharpens iron), rest and health are paramount for the Sixers.
What exactly should we be looking for in Games 3 & 4 that we haven’t already seen or learned from the first two matchups?
The simplest answer to that is probably nothing. Doc will continue to run deep rotations, as he should, and we’ll continue to see the Sixers tinker within the confines of what they mostly ran in the regular season. Through two games we haven’t seen much new from the coaching side, and the team is wise to keep their playoff tricks up the sleeve until the time is right.
These next two games are obviously a chance for the role players to earn their way into the rotation, shoot themselves out of a slump, get their playoff legs under them, etc.., and that likely isn’t lost on them. Korkmaz rebounded from an off Game 1 with 13 points on a 4/6 shooting night; Thybulle continued to do his thing, racking up 4 steals and 5 blocks in 19 minutes of action; and Maxey, who got most of his run in garbage time, dropped a cool 10 points, 2 assists, and 3 blocks (!) in just 14 minutes of play.
On the flip side, Shake Milton’s 0/6 performance is the latest in a string of poor outings that are putting his playoff minutes in jeopardy. If there’s someone on this roster who should be glad they have another pair of meaningless games to play (at least), it should be Shake. While his output hasn’t been so bad to the point that his minutes are unwarranted, the Sixers luxury of options in the backcourt—most of whom are playing well at the moment—will ultimately make this decision easier for Doc if Shake continues to slump.
Beyond settling the rotation and the players priming themselves for future series, there’s not a whole to play for through the rest of this matchup. It’s about taking care of business at this point, and that’s often how these 1-vs-8 series play out—over before they begin.