The Philadelphia 76ers have looked every bit of the Eastern Conference's top seed in taking a 3-0 series lead over the No. 8 Washington Wizards, and the Sixers can advance to the second round – most likely against the Hawks – with a win in D.C. on Monday in Game 4. The Sixers are 8-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds, a number that would rise if Wizards star Russell Westbrook doesn't play. He's listed as questionable but expected to go.
Westbrook was questionable for Saturday's Game 3, too, but played 34 minutes in the 132-103 loss and had his first triple-double of these playoffs with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Of course, he already owns the regular-season record for career triple-doubles and it was his 11th career in the postseason. That's tied with Jason Kidd for third in NBA history behind only Magic Johnson (30) and LeBron James (28).
Washington also is listing guard Ish Smith as questionable with a left groin injury. He had seven points, six rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes off the bench in Game 3.
Might this be the last game as Wizards coach for Scott Brooks? There are rumors that the team could move on from him, although Washington's late-season surge could have earned him another season. The team wouldn't have to fire Brooks because he's is in the final season of a five-year contract. At the end of the regular season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis sidestepped a question about Brooks' future.
Brooks has hinted at a possible lineup change for Game 4. He had started a three-guard lineup of Westbrook, Beal and Raul Neto in the first two games but opted to bring Neto off the bench in Game 3 and start forward Davis Bertans. That decision backfired as Bertans had just eight points and a minus-34 rating in 31 minutes. In Game 2, Bertans fouled out scoreless, becoming the first player to do that in an NBA playoff game in six years.
Washington simply can't defend either Tobias Harris or Joel Embiid. Harris is averaging 25.3 points per game while shooting 57.1 percent overall and 45.5 percent from three in the series so far. Embiid has been flat-out ridiculous in this series in having scored 88 points in just 84 minutes while shooting 67.4 percent from the field.
Despite being so dominant in this series, the Sixers are still only +300 third-favorites at William Hill to win the East behind Brooklyn (-110) and Milwaukee (+240). The Nets and Bucks would face off in Round 2, while the Sixers as noted probably will face Atlanta (+2500), which is up 3-1 on the Knicks.
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