3 takeaways as Wizards avoid Sixers sweep in Game 4

NBA Playoffs, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards

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The Washington Wizards kept their season alive with a 122-144 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal led the Washington Wizards to a much-needed win, seizing the moment as Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid left the game with knee soreness.

Washington still finds itself in a 3-1 series hole, but will live to see another day. Meanwhile, Philadelphia hopes for a speedy recovery for Embiid.

Here are the big takeaways from Game 4.

3. Wizards find a way

After being blown out in Game 3, the Wizards found a way to get it done tonight. It wasn’t always pretty, but with some hard-nosed defence and another strong scoring performance from Beal, Washington finally prevailed right when they most needed a win.

Beal led all scorers with 27 points, but it was a total team effort for Washington. Seven Wizards scored in double digits, and they held Philadelphia to just 41 percent from the floor. Overall, a far better effort than we’ve seen from Washington thus far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. It’s exciting to see young players like Rui Hachimura leaving their mark.

The final score represented the Wizards’ best performances in both points scored and allowed this series. They’ll need much of the same from here on out if they stand any hope of reaching the second round.

2. Russell Westbrook is a triple-double machine

Westbrook finished with 19 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists for the 12th playoff triple-double of his career. It was far from his most efficient night as he struggled with his shots (3-of-19), but he was an absolute hound on the glass, coming up with six offensive boards to give the Wizards key second chance opportunities. Not bad for a point guard.

1. Philadelphia needs Embiid if they want a deep playoff run

Joel Embiid is the beating heart of this Sixers team. He had a playoff career-high 36 points in Game 3 but played just 11 minutes tonight before leaving with knee soreness after an awkward fall.

The team struggled noticeably without him, particularly in the pivotal third quarter. The Sixers lost the rebound battle (57-48) and then, come crunch time, the Wizards used a “hack-a-Shaq” approach with Ben Simmons, a career 59.7 percent free-throw shooter who made just 5-of-11 on the night.

Philadelphia is talented, to be sure, but Embiid is clearly their go-to guy. Without him, one has to wonder how long the Sixers can last. They’ll get another chance to close out the first round on Wednesday at home in Philadelphia, and if so far more formidable opponents await.

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