The Wizards knew they had to be better at the 3-point line in Game 3 than they were in Game 2, or else they’d be behind the eight-ball again.
But just like Game 2, it turned out to be one of their biggest problems — on both ends of the floor.
The 76ers shot 17-of-33 (51.5%) from deep as they dominated the 3-point line without much serious resistance from the Wizards defensively. On the other end, the Wizards continued their poor shooting streak from distance and shot just 22.9% (8-of-35) as the 76ers controlled the perimeter.
In a theme of the series, the lengthy 76ers continued their superiority behind the arc in a 132-103 win as the Wizards were pushed to the brink of elimination and now are down 3-0 in the series.
“It was bad,” Bradley Beal said of the Wizards’ perimeter defense. “It was horrible. Danny Green is a shooter, Seth Curry is a shooter. I think we let Danny get four or five 3s in the first half, whatever it was. Seth almost the same thing. We just didn’t make them dribble. No disrespect to them, but we want them to put the ball on the floor and create plays. But we didn’t make them do that. They just rose up and shot it over us.”
The 76ers had five players take more than one 3-pointer that ended with a make percentage of better than 50%. Green led the way with a 5-of-9 mark, while Joel Embiid followed at 3-of-4. Tobias Harris added two makes. Curry had three as well, as seven different 76ers made at least one 3-pointer.
On the other end, Beal went 1-of-8 from deep and Davis Bertans, inserted into the starting lineup, went 1-of-5. Including Game 2, the Wizards are 10-of-57 in the last eight quarters.
“Danny Green, you want him to not take one shot without a dribble,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I don’t know if he took any shots without a dribble. Made his 3s, (a) handful of them were mistakes. But with that being said, they put you in some tough positions with Embiid and Simmons. They can pass over double teams, they can pass over the defense. They’ve got a lot of good players, and Harris, I don’t know if there’s a better third that does what he does. He defends, can play multiple positions, scores all over the floor.”
Philadelphia’s height has been an issue for the Wizards this series, as Green (6-foot-6), Harris (6-foot-8) and Embiid (7-feet) have been able to not only patrol the 3-point line on the defensive end but get uncontested looks on the offensive end of the floor. Their length forces the Wizards to be concerned about the paint but also makes them account for the perimeter as well.
Those three combined to go 10-of-16 (62.5%) from distance Saturday night.
“There were some mistakes, there was no question, but some of it was also they put you in a tough position,” Brooks said. “Even when they’re on point, they had some good shooters taking them. We’d love to play better defense from the 3, we’d also love to make some 3’s ourselves. But they have a very, very good team. We definitely have to play a little bit better on the rotations.”
Beal said he couldn’t pinpoint the issues with the close-outs for the Wizards defensively, but noted it’s been frustrating to see the Wizards dip into older, bad habits that plagued the team earlier in the season.
Now facing elimination in Game 4 on Monday night at Capital One Arena, the Wizards will have to find a way to close the gap at the 3-point line on either end of the floor. Otherwise, they’ll be in a heap of trouble against the East’s top team.
“In some ways, it felt like we were just getting beat up and stopped fighting back for a minute,” Beal said. “That was a little frustrating.”