Sixers poised for rare series sweep against Wizards

NBA Basketball

The Philadelphia 76ers aim to record their first postseason sweep since 1991 when they play Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the host Washington Wizards on Monday.

“That will be incredible,” Ben Simmons said after the 76ers cruised to a 132-103 victory in Game 3 on Saturday. “We want to get the sweep so we can get some rest. But this is a tough team. You never know what you are going to get every night, especially with (Bradley) Beal and (Russell) Westbrook.

“So we got to come prepared on Monday.”

The top-seeded 76ers certainly were prepared on Saturday, and now they have the eighth-seeded Wizards in a precarious position. While it has happened in the NHL and Major League Baseball, no NBA team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

As for Philadelphia, it is bidding to sweep an opponent for the first time since dispatching Milwaukee in a best-of-five, first-round series in 1991. The last time the 76ers brought out the brooms in a best-of-seven series was in 1985, also against the Bucks.

Joel Embiid scored 25 of his playoff career-high 36 points in the first half of Saturday’s contest.

The four-time All-Star took aim at the Wizards after they elected against double-teaming him. Washington’s Daniel Gafford was too small to guard Embiid, while Alex Len and Robin Lopez had trouble keeping up with the 7-footer’s speed and quickness.

“It was one-on-one, and I wanted to take advantage of it. I guess that’s on them to make that choice,” said Embiid, who is averaging a robust 29.3 points in the series.

Embiid made 14 of 18 shots from the floor on that night to improve to 31 of 46 (67.4 percent) in the series. He also made 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range for the second time in as many games.

“I can’t imagine anyone playing better than him. That was MVP-level (on Saturday),” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We tried different things on him, but he’s a good player. He’s definitely a handful.”

Tobias Harris added his third straight strong performance in the series after collecting 20 points and 13 rebounds. He is averaging 25.3 points and shooting 57.1 percent from the floor.

“It would be big for us,” Harris said of completing a potential sweep. “From the start of the series, the goal is always to come in and handle business. … We need that same type of mentality in the next one.”

Westbrook gamely played through the effects of a sprained right ankle. He posted his 11th career postseason triple-double after collecting 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on Saturday.

Beal added 25 points despite a dismal performance from 3-point range (1 of 8). He is two points shy of 1,000 for his postseason career.

Washington has struggled mightily from 3-point range. The Wizards followed up ghastly 2-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc in Game 2 by making 8 of 35 attempts from 3-point range on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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