Simmons stars, Sixers advance in playoffs

·2-min read

Ben Simmons has answered his detractors in emphatic style with a triple-double as the Philadelphia 76ers advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs at the expense of the Washington Wizards.

The Australian star had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Sixers downed the Wizards 129-112 to claim a 4-1 series victory.

Seth Curry top-scored for Philadelphia with 30 points, Tobias Harris had 28 and veteran centre Dwight Howard (12 points and eight rebounds) stepped up admirably in the absence of Joel Embiid, who sat out the game with a knee injury.

Simmons had been slammed after only making five of 11 free-throw attempts in the game-four loss to the Wizards two days ago, with Washington players deliberately fouling him in the closing stages.

The Wizards again adopted the Hack-a-Ben approach in game five but the All-Star was much more reliable this time from the stripe, making five from eight, while also creating plays and making his attacks to the rim look silky smooth.

"I've got my teammates with me," said Simmons after registering his third career playoffs triple-double.

"They've all got my back, and I've got theirs.

"Everyone really stepped up."

Bradley Beal led the scoring for the Wizards with a game-high 32 points and Russell Westbrook had 24 and 10 assists.

Eastern Conference top seeds Philadelphia will play Atlanta starting next week, giving MVP contender Embiid more time to recover from his knee injury.

Coach Doc Rivers said he expected Embiid, who is listed as day to day with a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee, to return in the post-season.

"I don't know when or how early," he said.

"I'm hopeful. I think that's a better way of putting it."

Trae Young had 36 points as the fifth-seeded Hawks beat the New York Knicks 103-89 at Madison Square Garden to seal their series 4-1.

Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz also cruised into the second round of the playoffs on Thursday (AEST).

Australian guard Ingles had a quiet night against the Memphis Grizzlies as Donovan Mitchell took centre stage with 30 points and 10 assists in the 126-110 victory which completed a 4-1 series win.

The top-seeded Jazz will play either the Dallas Mavericks or the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The Mavericks lead the series 3-2 after claiming game five 105-100 on the back of a 42-point haul from Luka Doncic.

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