Doc Rivers, Sixers happy with their defense against Russell Westbrook

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·4 min read
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While the Washington Wizards are listed as just the No. 8 seed, they are not your ordinary No. 8 seed. They are led by a former MVP in the form of Russell Westbrook and they have an elite scorer in Bradley Beal that make life tough for any defense, even for one as elite as the Philadelphia 76ers.

As the team’s tipped off their Round 1 series on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers used their embarrassment of riches on the defensive end in the form of Ben Simmons, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, and even Tobias Harris against Westbrook and Beal.

The stat sheet will say Westbrook had 16 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds and Beal had 33 points on 13-for-23 shooting, but the Sixers bothered the hell out of them and made it tough in a Game 1 win. They also had six turnovers each as they had a tough time against Philadelphia’s defense.

Coach Doc Rivers started Green on Westbrook and Simmons on Beal, but they switched off on the two stars most of the game.

“I think they did a pretty good job,” said Rivers. “I mean, he’s terrific. He’s just a tough cover every night. We forced six turnovers which is big for us, but he’s good man. He’s Westbrook. We knew that coming in and the other guy, his name is Bradley Beal, and we knew that coming in so we’re going to guard him, make it as tough as possible on them, and yet we know they still may have success.”

Beal is going to get his because that’s just who he is. He is an elite scorer in the NBA and he makes life tough for any opponent. The Sixers have a couple of elite defenders in their own right and Green is such a veteran in the league that he understands what he has to do against a guy like Westbrook.

“Stopping his transition,” said Green. “It’s him and Brad, it’s not a one-person job. It’s a team effort to stop him, but for me, I try to keep in front of the ball, I had a couple of lapses where it was my mistake. I let him get by me in transition for a couple of easy ones in that first half. In the second half, I wanted to take on the challenge and make sure I don’t let him get into the paint because he’s very dangerous when he gets to the rim and finding people when he’s in the paint.”

Simmons is an elite defender in his own right as somebody who is a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award and he did a solid job against the explosive Washington stars. Although, he will admit that he could have done more on that end.

“I think it was pretty solid,” said Simmons. “We hadn’t played in like 10 days so overall I think it was solid. I can do many things a lot better though.”

The big key for the Sixers moving forward is stopping the other guys. Westbrook did have 14 assists and he was able to get Daniel Gafford and Davis Bertans involved on the offensive end. Gafford had 12 points and six rebounds off the bench and Bertans had 14 as he was able to knock down some looks from deep. That was due to Westbrook’s aggressiveness.

“Russell’s gonna do what he does,” Green finished. “He gets his triple-doubles, but we got to take away the other guys as well. Gafford had a tremendous game, Davis had a hell of a game, and Ish (Smith). Their bench played well for them that’s what gets them rolling into the game so much.”

The Sixers and the Wizards will continue the series on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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