Philadelphia 76ers shut down Washington Wizards, prepare to ‘keep rolling’ as uncertainty surrounds Joel Embiid

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A pivotal moment in this Philadelphia 76ers the season may have taken place in the middle of the night this week along I-95 in rural Maryland.

Monday night was bad for the Sixers. They lost the star Joel Embiid has a knee injury it could cost him several playoff games and threaten their title hopes. They collapsed without him in the second half of the night, allowing the Wizards of Washington to win Game 4 and extend their first round streak. And then their charter plane broke down, and they had to take the bus back to Philadelphia.

But at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, when the Sixers returned home, the outlook was different. The bus ride turned into an open therapy session and changed the mindset of the players.

“It was an opportunity for the team to bond. It was just we cut him off and talked,” Tobias Harris mentionned. “We dropped that game and just said, ‘Hey, we’re going to win the next one and keep rolling. “”

Using a different line-up and a different strategy, the 76ers toppled the Wizards 129-112 Wednesday night in Game 5 to wrap up a 4-1 win in the series. And to create some momentum as they face the reality of not having their MVP nominee as they prepare for a second round series against the Atlanta hawks.

The Sixers call Embiid every day with a little tear in his right meniscus, and he fueled hope when he toured with his teammates before the game. He appears to have avoided – or postponed – surgery for now, but coach Doc Rivers was decidedly elusive as to when Embiid could realistically return.

This has the Sixers, the Eastern seeds and winners of 14 of their last 17 total games, challenging each other to survive and progress.

“We have the parts and the tools to do it,” said Ben simmons, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the victory. “We’ve been in this situation before this season. We know what we have to do.”

Rivers and his coaching staff looked at around 10 different starting lineup combinations before deciding to come up withMatisse Thybullein training and playing small and with more rhythm. Without Embiid’s strong post-up game, the Sixers also ran more attacks than usual thanks to the guard. Seth Curry, putting him in pick-and-rolls with Harris.

Curry has recorded 30 career playoff points as he has repeatedly managed to find room for a clean look. Harris, also in a playmaker role, had 28 points and six assists.

When Embiid injured his left knee in March, the 76ers went 7-3 without him, including 4-2 on a long trip out west. The experience gave them confidence on Wednesday and, the players said, head into the playoffs against an equally hot Hawks team.

“We know we have enough without Joel to win a few games,” said Curry. “We have no choice – we have to have that confidence and believe. We have a lot of confident guys. Joel has been huge for us all year. It’s just for us to give him as much time as he needs. to come back and help us win it all. “

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