Tobias Harris and the Philadelphia 76ers look to extend to a 2-0 series lead when they play the Washington Wizards Wednesday night. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Philadelphia 76ers are 8.5-point favorites in Game 2 of their Round 1 matchup with Washington on Wednesday (NBATV, 7pm ET)
- Russell Westbrook will try and rebound from a subpar scoring performance for the Wizards while Tobias Harris looks to stay hot for Philly
- Read below for analysis and a pick on the game
After an eight-game win streak to close out the month of April, the Washington Wizards won six of their final 10 regular season games. They went on to beat Indiana in the play-in tournament to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18, but also walked right into a nightmare matchup.
Washington’s reward was a lopsided pairing against the Philadelphia 76ers, who beat them in all three regular season meetings, and again in Game 1, 125-118. Philadelphia returns as 8.5-point favorites in Game 2 at home, and looks to continue an eight-game home winning streak.
The 76ers are a sub-top-ten defense against two-point attempts by opponents this year, while Washington has taken the highest rate of two-point shots in the NBA this season.
Wizards vs 76ers Game 2 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Washington Wizards||+8.5 (-110)||+310||O 231 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-8.5 (-112)||-390||U 231 (-112)|
Odds as of May 25th
Impact of Rest and Sustainability
Key players from both sides have had some of their most dramatic swings in production when getting two days off between games this season.
Washington’s Russell Westbrook carried his team during a historic run at the end of the regular season to break the NBA record for career triple-doubles. The last of those almost came out of necessity with Bradley Beal on the shelf for a few games with a hamstring injury.
So there have been some Joel Embiid-Russell Westbrook moments.
Remember this one from Jan. 19, 2019? pic.twitter.com/Njh7qXcDvm
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 21, 2021
Westbrook’s efficiency has been on a slide since setting the record, and he finished with 16 points on a lackluster 7-for-17 shooting night in Game 1. He did have 14 assists, but missed both of his three-point attempts, turned the ball over six times, and grabbed just five rebounds in more than 42 minutes on the floor.
This season, Westbrook has arguably been at his worst with two days between games. His lowest averages in rebounds and overall defensive effectiveness come after two nights off, and for whatever reason, he’s shot just 45.8% from the free throw line against Philadelphia this year.
Can Harris Keep it Going?
On the other bench, Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris is coming off of a 37-point performance.
Sunday’s showing was his first 30+ point effort since April 3 against Minnesota, and just his third since mid-February. In his 10 previous games, Harris scored more than 20 points just three times, and twice during that stretch, he was held to single-digits.
Tobias Harris had it going in Game 1 in general. One aspect that should continue is getting him mismatches on transition cross-matches and when the Wiz switch.
Wiz decide to switch the Curry back screen for Harris here and it’s an easy read for Simmons:https://t.co/A0UZijLuM1 pic.twitter.com/1MO6cSe6hf
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) May 24, 2021
In two of the four games Philly played against the Wizards this season, Harris failed to make a three-pointer. Even after a 2-for-5 showing in Game 1, he is shooting around 30% from distance against them in four games this year.
Philadelphia took more than twice as many free throws as Washington did in Game 1. Westbrook and Beal are top-15 in free throws attempted per game, so it was puzzling that they didn’t get to the line more often. More than half of Westbrook’s shots came from outside of the key, and both players should be motivated to attack the basket on Wednesday.
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Unpredictability is Tough to Count On
The line for Game 2 already moved a half-point in Philadelphia’s favor after opening at 8. For as good as the 76ers have been this season, a killer instinct has eluded them in some of their biggest games. Even though this series is likely to end in a sweep for Philly, Washington should give everything it has to try and stave off going down 0-2 to start the series.
In a potential flat spot for Philadelphia, this is the type of scenario in which Beal could shine on the road, but too many trends point to this game not continuing the first act’s offensive pace. Washington looks like a reasonable pick to cover the 8.5-point spread, but relying on Westbrook to play within himself and Philadelphia to play sensibly for four full quarters is a tough proposition.
The 76ers know they have this series in the bag, and should try to slow the pace down. Otherwise, they risk falling into the trap of trying to match Washington’s up-tempo style and playing outside of their comfort zone.
- The Pick: Under 231 (-112)
Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.