Euro 2020 Special

NBA: Wiz Prevent Sixers Sweep, Jazz Put Griz on the Brink

Neither of the two 1-vs-8 first-round NBA playoff series will end in a sweep. That’s after the Washington Wizards scored a shock win over the East’s top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, who lost superstar Joel Embiid early due to a knee injury.

Meanwhile, the West’s No. 1 seed – the Utah Jazz – have put the Memphis Grizzlies on the brink of elimination after their third win in a row in Game 4.

Read on below as SBOTOP recaps these 1-vs-8 Game 4s, both of which were more competitive than expected.

Philadelphia 76ers 114-122 Washington Wizards

Joel Embiid’s exit early during the NBA playoffs due to injury
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid was injured during an NBA playoffs match against the Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards have not provided the shocks some were expecting in these playoffs, but they now have at least one after defying the NBA 2021 betting odds by beating the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4.

The Wizards capitalised on Joel Embiid’s early exit due to a right knee injury. The Sixers star suffered the injury after a hard fall in the first quarter and was limited to just eight points and six rebounds in 11 minutes.

Bradley Beal led seven Wizards in double-figure scoring with 27 points in 43 minutes. Russell Westbrook had a disastrous shooting game (3-19 FG) but still ended up with another triple-double of 19 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists.

Tobias Harris had a team-high 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Sixers in Embiid’s absence, but he shot just 8-of-24 from the field. Philly clearly missed Embiid’s offensive impact; the All-Star big man had been averaging 29 points in the first three games of the series.

After going down to double-digit deficits in the first half of the last two games, the Wizards kept it close heading into half-time. And with Embiid out of the game, they finally made their run midway through the third quarter. With Beal and Westbrook leading the way, they went on a 15-6 spurt to enter the fourth with a 12-point lead.

The Sixers came out strong to start the fourth quarter and quickly cut the lead down to three points in less than three minutes. They tied things up on a couple of occasions and even took the lead at one point after a Ben Simmons free throw.

But the Wizards would not go away and were up three points with a minute left in the game. Then, Rui Hachimura’s clutch 3-pointer and two Westbrook free-throws extended the lead back up to eight as the Wizards hung on for the home win.

As the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 5, the question will be whether Embiid will be able to play. The latest NBA 2021 updates indicate Embiid will have an MRI on his sore knee, so it remains to be seen whether the MVP candidate will return to help close the Wizards out.

Utah Jazz 120-113 Memphis Grizzlies

After suffering a shock loss in Game 1, the surprise No. 1-seeded Jazz have quickly reclaimed control of their series against the Grizzlies. Utah now have a commanding 3-1 series lead following back-to-back wins in Memphis and are one win away from moving on to the second round.

Donovan Mitchell led the way with a team-high 30 points, while newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson added 24 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Ja Morant had 23 points and 12 assists in a losing effort for the Grizzlies.

Like the Wizards, the Grizzlies also played more competitively after going down to big first-half deficits in the last two games. Jaren Jackson Jr., who has struggled offensively in this series, made a bright start with 12 of his 21 points coming in the first half to support Morant.

But the Jazz eventually turned the tide with a 41-point third quarter, 10 of which came from Clarkson on 4-of-5 shooting, as they built up a 13-point lead heading into the final quarter.

The Grizzlies fought back in the fourth and cut the lead down to three points thanks to a scoring barrage by backup guard De’Anthony Melton, who scored 15 points with three 3-pointers in the quarter.

But two dagger threes from Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic saw the Jazz rebuild their lead back up to 10 points with less than three minutes to go and did enough to secure the win. The Jazz, who have won all three games with Donovan Mitchell in the lineup, will now look to close out the Grizzlies in Game 5 back in Salt Lake City.