The Philadelphia 76ers hope to cap off a successful road trip with a third straight win and might have to do so without star center Joel Embiid when they visit the Washington Wizards in the opener of a home-and-home series Monday night.
After losing their first three games of the season and four of their first five, the 76ers have rebounded with road wins at Toronto and Chicago to get within a game of .500.
In order to tally a third consecutive victory, the 76ers would have to hand the Wizards a third straight defeat, including a second in two nights after they took a 112-94 drubbing at Boston on Sunday.
Bradley Beal was held to 12 points by the defensive-minded Celtics. His 4-for-16 game came as part of a 38.8 percent night for the Wizards, who hadn’t been held under 45.7 percent in any previous game this season.
Beal went 37 minutes in the loss, but if there was a positive for Washington, it was that no other player was extended longer than 28 minutes on the front half of a back-to-back.
In fact, Monday’s biggest question mark is Embiid, who complained of an illness in the wake of his starring role in a 114-109 win at Chicago on Saturday.
The 76ers’ wins over the Raptors and Bulls came on consecutive nights. Embiid had sat out Friday’s 112-90 romp at Toronto to rest a sore right knee.
Tyrese Maxey carried the heaviest load at Toronto with 44 points, before reserves Georges Niang and De’Anthony Melton combined for 25 off the bench at Chicago, as the 76ers not only dealt with Embiid’s absence against the Raptors, but also James Harden’s back-to-back subpar efforts.
He failed to make a 3-pointer (0-for-8) in the two games, during which he scored 11 and 15 points on 6-for-22 shooting.
Afterward, he noted how 11-for-11 foul shooting, 11 assists, six rebounds and two steals had aided the win at Chicago.
“It’s a part of the game,” he said of the shooting slump. “You want to play well every single game. You want to make shots. … When you don’t make it, you try to find other ways to impact the game.
“So I had double-digit assists. I tried to rebound the basketball when I can, and come out with a win. And tonight we did that.”
Washington won the season series 2-1 over the 76ers last season, taking the last two games after a home loss on Dec. 26, 2021, had extended the Wizards’ losing streak in the rivalry to six games.
Harden didn’t join the 76ers in a trade from Brooklyn until after the season series was over.
Likewise, the 76ers have never seen Kristaps Porzingis as a Wizard. His trade from Dallas came on the same day as the Philadelphia-Brooklyn blockbuster.
Beal was already injured and out for the season when Porzingis arrived last February. The big man has thoroughly enjoyed their coexistence this season.
“I love playing with him,” Porzingis gushed. “He takes so much attention away from me. On those curls, the big has to help, otherwise he has a layup.”
Porzingis had 17 points as part of his third double-double of the season in the loss to the Celtics.
The Wizards-76ers rematch is Wednesday in Philadelphia.
–Field Level Media