Things to Watch: Sixers versus Wizards
The time has finally come. The Sixers will kick off their 2020-2021 campaign on their home floor against the Washington Wizards. After going undefeated in the preseason, the Sixers will look to build on the momentum that they have built.
Here are three things to keep an eye on in the team’s season opener.
Taking care of the basketball
If there is one area the Sixers need to improve on from their second preseason game, it’s taking care of the ball. Although they walked away with the win, their carelessness with the ball was a glaring concern.
The Sixers turned the ball over 26 times against the Pacers in their preseason finale. They cannot expect to hang around with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook if they give them extra possessions.
Careless passing has been a weak spot for the Sixers in the past, how they address their turnover issues will be a key thing to watch against the Wizards.
Slowing down Russ and Beal
After trading away John Wall, the Wizards now have an elite-level backcourt. If the Sixers want to kick off the regular season with a win, they will need to find a way to slow down Westbrook and Beal on offense.
Last year the two combined for 57.7 points per game. The Sixers have said that they feel they can be a top-level defensive team, and this game should be a great first test to prove that. Guys like Ben Simmons, Danny Green, and Matisse Thybulle are going to have their hands full defending on the perimeter.
Turning Westbrook into a jump shooter needs to be a focus from the Sixers defense. He has never been a good shooter from the outside, shooting just 25.8% from three last season. If the Sixers can clog the lane and force him to settle for perimeter shots, it should neutralize him on offense.
Doc Rivers has said he feels the team is close to where it is supposed to be on defense, and this game should give good insight to that.
Attacking an inexperienced frontcourt
Looking at this matchup all signs point to Joel Embiid being able to dominate this game. The Wizards have little experience in their frontcourt and don’t have much size to combat Embiid in the post.
Embiid had a lot of success against the Wizards last year, and not much should change. In three matchups against Washington last year, he averaged 25.3 PPG, 15.0 RPG, and shot 55.3% from the field.
With the improved shooting in the Sixers’ lineup, Embiid should only be more effective in the post this season. The offense should run through him in the post and give him the chance to attack the Wizards’ young bigs. This could also open up the floor for guys like Green, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris to get good looks on the outside.