In John Wall’s home preseason debut, the point guard proved that his presence makes a huge difference. The last time these two teams met, sans Wall of course, they went to double overtime. That wouldn’t be the case tonight, Washington jumped all over the 76ers early and didn’t look back. The one bright spot for Philadelphia was the play of Joel Embid, they Sixers biggest lead was just two points. Bradley Beal got things going as well, scoring a game high 22 points as Washington beat the Sixers 100-79. It was definitely Washington’s best showing of the preseason, no surprise it came with Wall playing close to 20 minutes
Below are a few observations from the preseason contest.
Wall. Stretch in first quarter in which he got a chase down block and then a lay in at the other end. Really looks good, can tell by how low he was sitting in his defensive stance. Washington ‘s offense looks very different with their leader on the court, finally seeing what Brooks offense looks like. As for John, he showed everyone in attendance and those watching on a screen that he’s once again healthy. In the first half, Wall beat his man than exploded off of one leg and dropped the hammer on a poster dunk over Jerami Grant of the 76ers. In 19 minutes, Wall had 9 points and 9 assists while turning the ball over just once.
Embid. The Philadelphia big man made a heck of an impression early in this one, doing so on both ends of the floor. In the first quarter alone he had a nice help side block followed by a highlight worthy put-back dunk. The most impressive thing was his desire and ability to step out on the perimeter to defend opponents. Near the end of the first half, he went out to the “D” in the middle of the court to defend John Wall. John got by him as expected, but it was clear that Joel has the ability to switch to smaller players and possibly be a wrecker of screen/rolls. Joel would finish with 11 points and 12 rebounds in just 13 minutes of play, he barely played in the second half.
Beal. On media day Scott Brooks said he challenged Bardley Beal to make his teammates better. The shooting guard has been doing a good job of that his preseason. He made several good passes that directly resulted in baskets out of the screen/roll. In the second half, Beal started showing off that sweet shooting stroke. His full offensive game was on display in the third quarter, moving off the ball to find open spots beyond the arc, beating his man off the dribble and finishing at the rim. He scored 15 of his game high 22 points in the period.
PG Friendly offense. Prior to John playing, we didn’t have a very clear idea as to what the Brooks era offense looked like. The exception being when Tomas Satoransky was running the team in stretches. With Wall driving the car, Washington looked like a totally different team. It was literally watching a conductor at work. He was manipulating the defense as he pleased, there was a specific play that comes to mind. Midway through the third quarter, Beal got a rebound and gave it to Wall to push it up court. It was clear that Beal would be the trailer, but Wall moved the defense to the left side of the floor before slinging it back to Beal for the open triple.
Pace. The Wizards getting in transition after making a defensive stop was expected, what wasn’t was them pushing the ball after a make. In that 38 point third quarter, Washington was running regardless of a Philadelphia make or miss. Even before then, there were several instances in which a few long outlet passes were made. Bigs were sprinting up the floor with the hopes of getting position on their man so that any entry pass led to an uncontested layup, with their defender trailing them. That pace played a role in Washington building a 33 point lead at one point.