The Philadelphia 76ers emerged victorious on their opening night with a 113-107 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday and they can thank their bank for that. The starting unit struggled to start working the twists, while working on a new system and the bench came and provided great support.
Shake Milton scored 19 points while also playing flawless defense against Wizards stars Russel Westbrook and Bradley Beal, Furkan Korkmaz had 11, Tyrese Maxey had six and Dwight Howard had 10 rebounds. The Sixers needed all of that to win this game, as the starting line-up outside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons struggled a little.
“There will be games where the starting unit will play very well,” said Korkmaz on Thursday after training. “So, the second unit is going to play a little bad. Yesterday (Wednesday), I think the second unit did a great job. “
The second unit helped the Sixers build a 50-37 lead at the end of the second period, before the starters returned and the Wizards made a great run to really take the lead at halftime. This was followed by the sad third quarter of Philadelphia, where the incumbents failed to gather strength until the 6:04 mark of the third quarter.
Coach Doc Rivers put the bench back there and they helped put the team back a little bit and then helped make room for Embiid to dominate the straight.
“In the first half, we had a great advantage,” added Korkmaz. “I think we won 12 points in the first half in the game, but it was a game, I think, at the end of the day, victory is a victory, but I think the second unit did a lot of work.”
For Simmons, he was happy to see his teammates stand out in a big moment. To get where they want, they will need everyone on the team to introduce themselves and contribute. It can’t be just the beginners every night, so this is a good sign for them as a group.
“It’s huge,” said Simmons of the bank. “It’s great to see the guys come in, play and get to work. So, on the defensive side, make stops and be proud of our fights, defensively. Everyone has to be on the same page, especially if it’s the other way around. Our second group is failing, guys have to perform. This is what this team is built on. “
Presentations like Wednesday’s also help to relieve pressure on holders somewhat. On nights when they are simply not going to eat like they did on this one, the bank can come in and produce. The team has had off the bench fights in the past, but this is a different team at the moment. The seat can also push the starters for better performance.
“It’s not pressure, it’s more, it feeds us,” concluded Simmons. “We want to go, too. When we see them killing and it is our time to return, we want to do the same, and that is the basketball championship. Everyone has to fulfill their role and do that ”.
Philadelphia will continue to grow as a team when it faces the New York Knicks on the road on Saturday.