GRADES: Sixers clinch first round series with Game 5 blowout

Philadelphia 76ers, Seth Curry (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Seth Curry (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers rallied to take down the Washington Wizards with a career-best playoff performance from Seth Curry.

With Joel Embiid missing the game and being labeled day-to-day with his small lateral meniscus tear, defensive stalwart, Matisse Thybulle got the start.

Washington came out firing early in the first quarter as Russell Westbrook pushed the pace and Bradley Beal performed to his exceptional standards. Philadelphia countered with their big three of the night: Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Curry. The trio scored the team’s first 15 points of the night before a Thybulle dunk divvied the scoring.

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As the quarter waned, the three leading men for Philadelphia’s bench, Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey, and Dwight Howard turned a seven-point deficit into a 29-29 tie entering the second quarter.

With Westbrook still manning the point and Beal coming in early in the second, Philadelphia faced a possibly tenuous stretch. Despite the pace seeming to be Westbrook’s lead, Maxey looked more than capable of managing the offensive burden. Six points and an assist staved off any Washington run until Harris could enter back into the fold.

From there, the game was mucked with free throws as the scoring diversified and the teams played it close to the tune of a 65-63 halftime lead for Philadelphia.

The third quarter continued the track meet with Curry carrying the baton in the opening stretch. As the Westbrook and Beal combo flourished, Curry poured in 11 straight points for Philadelphia to keep the game tight. From there, the other usual suspects helped gather the reigns.

An aggressive Simmons was attacking open space from different areas of the floor, galivanting his way to the paint for a lay-in or dime on his way to a triple-double. Not to be outdone, Howard helped close the quarter for the reserves as the lead seesawed back-and-forth before settling 103-94 heading to the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, the stars for Washington seemed to just run out of steam. Beal’s shot was flat, and Westbrook was not able to maintain the pace. Outside of Rui Hachimura, Philadelphia was content to stymie the Washington attack and ride the lead into a gentleman’s sweep, 129-112, as the series concluded at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sixers player grades in Game 5 blowout victory 129-112

A+. . PG. 76ers. SETH CURRY

31 mins | 30 pts | 0 reb | 2 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 2 TO | 10-17 FG | 3-6 3PT| 7-7 FT | 3 PF | +11 |

On a night to be rumored with Simmons challenging to Curry to go for 30 points, per Noah Levick of NBCSPhilly, he delivered. Curry’s shooting is paramount to unlocking Philadelphia’s spacing, but it is his wiggle and crafty ballhandling that truly elevate his individual potential.

Curry showcased his subtle elusiveness as he shot 7-11 from two-point range while managing to make it to the line seven times. Whether in a two-man game with the big fella or utilizing quick jabs after catching from Simmons or Harris, Curry’s movement ought not go unnoticed.

76ers. BEN SIMMONS. A+. . C

39 mins | 19 pts | 10 reb | 11 ast | 1 stl | 2 blk | 4 TO | 7-11 FG | 0-0 3PT| 5-8 FT | 4 PF | +17 |

Simmons delivered on a game that sneakily might have meant a lot. It’s no secret that Simmons name came up in trade talks during the season. His value is understood, but his archetype, deployment, and potential are still hotly debated. On a night without his lead, Simmons made a strong case for his ability to be the offensive fulcrum.

. PF. 76ers. TOBIAS HARRIS. A+

37 mins | 28 pts | 9 reb | 6 ast | 3 stl | 1 blk | 0 TO | 9-17 FG | 2-5 3PT| 8-10 FT | 3 PF | +11 |

Not enough great things can be said, as so many of last year’s words are being retracted, about Harris. Fractions of percentage points from a 50/40/90 season while operating as the third option is astounding. More so is his ability to step into the spotlight and initiate when Simmons doesn’t have it. All year Harris has performed at whatever level whenever called upon, tonight was just another example.

B+. . C. 76ers. DWIGHT HOWARD

16 mins | 12 pts | 8 reb | 2 ast | 0 stl | 3 blk | 1 TO | 2-2 FG | 0-0 3PT| 8-10 FT | 4 PF | +8 |

Only one problem… Howard is fouling at absurd rates. With Embiid hobbled, Howard will be called upon to defend Clint Capela from the Atlanta Hawks in the next round. Atlanta has a lot of bodies while Philadelphia is thin at the spot. Howard will need to limit his fouling as availability might be his best ability in the next round. The good side, Howard has to be viewed as one of the best value signings in basketball. When the man is on the court, he has been excellent.

A. . PG. 76ers. TYRESE MAXEY

26 mins | 13 pts | 6 reb | 2 ast | 1 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 6-14 FG | 0-2 3PT| 1-2 FT | 2 PF | +14|

Maxey continues to prove with each passing day that all he needs is a chance. Rookie guards aren’t supposed to be playing meaningful minutes in closeout playoff games. They certainly aren’t supposed to be matching Westbrook for stretches in bench loaded units.

Shake Milton once seemed destined to take the reigns in this role, Maxey slammed the door on that competition. His defensive activity, command of the offense, and microwave scoring potential have created a tremendous option for Doc Rivers to explore and it appears to warrant exploration if the offense needs some juice.

Next. Maxey should be starting in Embiid’s place. dark

The Philadelphia 76ers were the better team in the series. They entered with hopes of a sweep and left with a gentleman’s sweep. All eyes will turn to the Atlanta Hawks as Philadelphia begins game-planning for how to approach slowing Trae Young and their surging squad. Also, fans should monitor the day-to-day designation for Embiid. To the fans’ delight, Embiid was getting shots up before Game 5.