Tobias Harris erupted for 37 points as the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers shut down the Washington Wizards’ high-powered offense to win their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff series opener 125-118 on Sunday.
Harris delivered a 28-point first half display to get the Sixers off to a flying start and Joel Embiid added 30 points from just 30 minutes on court to steer the Sixers to a home victory in the best-of-seven series.
Seth Curry had 15 points and Danny Green added 11 for Philadelphia. Ben Simmons was restricted to just six points but hauled down 15 rebounds and handed out 15 assists.
After just one point separated the teams at half-time, the game swung decisively in the Sixers’ favor in the third quarter, when the hosts overturned a five-point deficit before stretching away to lead by 11 early in the fourth.
“Tonight just coming out here being aggressive — I wanted to set the tone early on,” Harris said of his explosive first-half scoring display.
“We wanted to show what we’re about all year. We know this playoff run is going to be as tough as they get and we’ve just got to bring the energy and bring the fire each and every night.”
Harris said the 76ers had consciously tightened defense after the Wizards’ Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal had got into an early scoring groove in the first half for the visitors.
“They’ve got a super dynamic back court with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, so we wanted to limit them from making shots,” Harris said.
“We thought in the first half there was too many blow-bys in transition, and too many easy baskets. So we just felt for us it was about locking in defensively in the second half. We know we’ve gotta be better.”
Beal led the Wizards scorers with 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while triple-double king Westbrook was held to 16 points with 15 assists and five rebounds. Davis Bertans added 14 points while Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura and Alex Len all chipped in with 12 points apiece for the eighth seeds.
Game two in the series takes place in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
© Agence France-Presse