Philadelphia (USA), May 23 (EFE) .- Forward Tobias Harris is not nominated for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season, but he was the surprise hero who with 37 points saved the Philadelphia Sixers this Sunday in the first game of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs that they won 125-118 against the Washington Wizards.
Harris, who also contributed six rebounds, did not envy any NBA All-Star and along with his teammates, MVP-nominated Cameroonian center Joel Embiid and Australian point guard Ben Simmons, could well claim that the Sixers also have their own “Big 3”.
The Philadelphia starting forward was in charge of leading the attack of the team with the best record of the regular season in the Eastern Conference and was better than Embiid, who in the end also had 30 points, as the second highest scorer, but not the decisive ones.
While Simmons flirted with the triple-double and was dominant under the hoops and in the direction of the game with six points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists, in the duel he had with the star point guard of the Wizards, Russell Westbrook, the ” king “of all time in triple-doubles.
But it would be Harris, who scored 28 points in the first half, who in the end also achieved the decisive goals after seeing how with 45 seconds left they were only five points ahead.
Harris joined former baseman Allen Iverson as the only Sixers with more than 28 points in one half in the playoffs since 1997.
Guard Bradley Beal claimed his status as the league’s second leading scorer and with 33 points was again in charge of being the figure in the Wizards attack, but missed five of the six triple attempts he made.
Westbrook was left with a double-double of 16 points, 14 assists, five rebounds and lost six balls that did not help the final cause of the Wizards, who are down 0-1 in the best-of-seven series, and Wednesday They will face the Sixers again on the same stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Four other Wizards players, including Latvian forward David Bertans, who scored 14 points as reserves, finished with double-digit numbers.
While the Brazilian guard Raúl Neto, who continued to start, scored seven points in the 22 minutes he was on the court after scoring 3 of 5 shots from the field, including a triple of two attempts.
In addition to capturing three rebounds, he gave an assist, lost a ball and left without committing personnel, in another good teamwork and supporting the offensive game of Beal and Westbrook which made the Wizards stay in the game all the time .
Unable to create a consistent offense away from Harris, the Sixers finally put together a 3-point barrage late in the third quarter that piqued the enthusiasm of the 11,160 fans who filled the stands, about half full, but sounded like if there were more than 20,000 in support of the team.
Harris was tasked with scoring a tying triple, guard Seth Curry hit his first, Danny Green buried one and Curry hit his chest and spoke after three others did for the 88-81 favorable run.
Fans erupted shortly after in a chant of “Trust the process” with Embiid at the free throw line, and the Sixers closed the quarter with a 99-93 lead.
The Philadelphia team endured its first playoff victory in two years, even as Simmons went 0-6 from the free throw line.
Embiid was fouled three times and the Sixers missed 14 of 17 triples in the first half, leaving Harris with the responsibility of shouldering the team and justifying that his $ 180 million contract is more than deserved.
Harris spent the season believing he was worthy of an All-Star spot and surprised with 28 points on 12 of 19 shots from the field when scoring from any position and with all the variety of shots from the field.
Beal, who burned the Sixers by 60 points in January, and Westbrook combined by just 20 points in the first half, but took a 62-61 lead at the break.
Washington advanced by defeating the Indiana Pacers to emerge from the play-in round as the eighth-ranked East in the payoffs after a two-year absence.
The Wizards were a disaster early in the season, dealing with injuries and a covid-19 outbreak, but ended it on a 17-6 streak for a 34-38 aggregate, giving them a chance to become the first team. with a losing record to win a playoff series since the 1987 Seattle SuperSonics.
Philadelphia and Washington met for the first time in the postseason since 1986, and the game may have surprises.
(c) EFE Agency