NBA Playoffs: How the Washington Wizards can stop Joel Embiid and upset the Philadelphia 76ers

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Washington Wizards.
Washington Wizards. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

What the Washington Wizards must do after Joel Embiid receives the ball

Ideally, you’d like to be able to single-cover Embiid and make his life difficult. Unfortunately, none of Alex Len, Daniel Gafford, or Robin Lopez stand a chance, so the Wizards will need to double Embiid every single time. Like with any great player, the Wizards need to keep Joel Embiid guessing. Here are the different looks I’d throw out there:

  • Option A: Send help from one pass away

This coverage has had some success throughout the year. The center sits on Embiid’s left side – preventing the baseline drive and the jab-step fadeaway, and the closet defender flies in from Embiid’s right side. There are two different iterations of this: 1) double immediately (from whoever made the entry pass), or 2) double as soon as Embiid starts his move (from the closet shooter).

Both require extreme persistence and attentiveness off-ball. With Ben Simmons stationed in the dunker’s spot, his man should have ample time to sprint out to the corner if necessary. Watch here as New Orleans executes these rotations perfectly.

  • Option B: Send help from the dunker’s spot

While Joel Embiid is an improved passer, he still has blind spots. This strategy cuts off his most comfortable outlet. He is, however, proficient at throwing the skip pass to the corner, so I would primarily use this when Matisse Thybulle is in the game.

  • Option C: Front the post

This isn’t exactly when Embiid has the ball, but it should be one of Washington’s main coverages (especially when caught up in a mismatch). Make one of the Sixer perimeter players throw a pinpoint pass over the top or perform high/low action. It also forces Embiid to work for everything, which leads to the next point…