Sixers hoping to ride defense to win over Wizards

The Philadelphia 76ers had won five of six before their Wednesday night win over the New York Knicks.

But all five of those wins were nail-biters, none by more than six points, one by five, two-game winners and a one-point win besides those.

And then the Knicks came into town and the 76ers throttled them, 117-91.

Now another Eastern Conference team in complete shambles comes to town as the 76ers welcome the woeful Washington Wizards to Wells Fargo Center on Friday night at 7 p.m.

The Sixers are hoping that their defense once again carries them to a win, after they’ve had to rely on the offense so much during the recent spurt.

“I think we’re staying aggressive on defense,” Philadelphia point guard Ben Simmons said after the win over New York. “Obviously tried to rebound at a higher rate because of the elite rebounders on their team. I think we did a pretty good job boxing out and pushing the ball and getting to offense.”

That offense results in 117 or more points for the fifth time in six games, the team’s most prolific stretch of the season.

Now Washington comes to town on Friday having watched their offense disappear after two big performances. After an impressive two-game home winning streak against the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans — games in which the Wizards totaled 259 points — Washington managed just 104 in a loss at New Orleans on Wednesday, a loss that dropped them to 8-13 on the year.

“Our effort just wasn’t there tonight,” Bradley Beal told reporters after the game. “It was our defense. It was not our offense. Didn’t guard the ball, didn’t help each other out. Transition was terrible. As to why, I don’t know. It’s kind of like we went to old habits tonight.”

If the Wizards are in a state of discombobulation, with rumors swirling about an impending roster demolition, the 76ers have found themselves coalescing behind the new Big 3 of Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Philadelphia is 6-1 in Butler’s seven games since opening his Sixers career with a loss at Orlando.

On Wednesday against the Knicks, Butler had just seven points in 25 minutes as the Sixers were able to give ample minutes to the bench.

“It wasn’t like here comes the bench and there’s a letdown, it wasn’t that at all,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said after the game. “Those guys played. I thought T.J. (McConnell) had a plus-25, Furkan Korkmaz did some nice things. We are continuing to see the growth in Landry Shamet and it’s good to be able to throw Demetrius a bone and get him in the game and let him get rewarded for all of his hard work.”

After the game, the Sixers will remain home for one more game to close out the three-game set when they host visiting Memphis on Sunday before heading out for two on the road at Toronto and Detroit.

Washington has a quick turnaround, heading back to the Capitol to host Brooklyn on Saturday before going out on the road for four straight, including three in a row at the dregs of the Eastern Conference in New York, Atlanta and Cleveland.