NBA Playoffs: 5 takeaways from Game 1 between Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Game 1 Takeaway #1: Find a way to the foul line

The Washington Wizards led the NBA in personal fouls per game during the regular season, so it’s no surprise that the 76ers attempted more free throws in game one than they averaged during the regular season. But the Wizards led the entire NBA in free throw attempt per game (26.2), so it was surprising to see them get outshot in that department.

In game one, the 76ers attempted twice as many free throws as the Wizards, 15 attempts for the Wizards compared to 33 for the 76ers. Embiid alone had nearly as many free throw attempts as the entire Wizards team (13). That’s not a huge shock considering he led the NBA in free throw attempts per game this season (10.7). But the Wizards have a free throw magnet of their own in Beal, who averaged 6.7 free throw attempts per game, not that many fewer than Embiid. Beal hit his regular-season total in game one, attempting (and making) six free throws in the loss. Alex Len had seven, and Westbrook added two more attempts, but that was it. Only three Wizards players even attempted free throws.

The Wizards had fewer opportunities but were better at the foul line. The Wizards made 80 percent of their free throws in game one, while the 76ers made just 69.7 percent of theirs. However, their overwhelming advantage in total free throws attempted allowed them to shoot a lesser percentage and still handily outscore the Wizards in that department, 23-12.

Moving forward, the Wizards may be able to fix two of their game one problems if they can force Philadelphia into more fouls. One, they’ll likely get more free throw attempts if they get more whistles. Two, if the Wizards start looking for more contact around the rim, it could get Embiid in foul trouble. More free throws mean more points, and more fouls on Embiid means more time for him on the bench, which also means more points. Win-win.

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