Philadelphia 76ers cautious after Game 1

Philadelphia 76ers cautious after Game 1

76ers know it won’t be easy

The Philadelphia 76ers finished the NBA regular season as the top team in the Eastern Conference with an impressive record of 49-23. As a result of finishing as the number one seed, they earned the right of home-court advantage through to the NBA finals. They also get to open the playoffs against the number eight seed Washington Wizards who had to win in the play-in round to even qualify for the postseason.

Despite having home court advantage and winning 15 more games during the regular season than the Wizards though, game one of the best-of-seven series was closer than the 76ers would have liked. Ultimately Philadelphia prevailed with an important 125-118 victory, but the Wizards proved they are not going to be steamrolled in the first-round.

“Yesterday I was watching NBA games, and I was kind of surprised. I said, ‘Man, all these games are really close.’ It wasn’t like a real big spread in any of them,” Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris said following the victory, via ESPN. “And I think this whole playoffs, game in and game out, you’re gonna see dogfights from all around the league.

The 28-year-old set a career playoff high with 37 points – including an astounding first half that saw him score 28 points.

“I mean, Washington, you know they’ve been one of the hottest teams after the All-Star break in the whole NBA, so for us, we know the power that they have and the guys that can make shots on the team,” he continued. “So that just adds to our focus as a group and knowing how locked in we need to be for this whole series, and that’s only going to help us into where we’re trying to go.”

While Harris led all players in scoring, the 76ers also got plenty of help from superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. In fact, Washington went on a momentum-changing 10-0 run late in the first quarter without either on the court.

“You know we’ve been there,” Embiid said following game 1, via ESPN. “And we also have a goal, and to get to that goal, we got to get through these guys. So you know, the mindset is just me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a week or two weeks off, it doesn’t matter if we haven’t played in a while. That should not be an excuse.”

Philadelphia has already surpassed their woeful playoff performance from inside the NBA bubble in Florida last summer, where they were swept in four straight games by the Boston Celtics. The team brought in head coach Doc Rivers during the offseason though and he it seems as though he has been able to get the most out of his squad so far.

While Bradley Beal and Russel Westbrook combined for 49 points, 15 rebounds and 20 assists, the 76ers were able to manage the game around them.

“He’s Westbrook,” Rivers said. “Like we know that coming in, and the other guy’s name is Bradley Beal and we know that coming in. So we’re going to guard him, make it as tough as possible on him, and yet we know they still may have success.”

The 76ers still have a long way to go before the reach their ultimate goal of an NBA championship, but Sunday was a step in the right direction.