By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high after frying the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. They faced the Brooklyn Nets tonight in what could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview. Philly dominated the Nets thanks to a strong offensive surge and dominant play on defense. They dominated Brooklyn 123-117.
Brooklyn was shorthanded as they were missing guard James Harden (hamstring injury), forward Kevin Durant (rest/hamstring management), forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge (non-covid sickness), and forward Blake Griffin (rest). Despite that it looked good early on for Philly. They hit their first three shots from the field and dominated the Nets from the opening tipoff.
Center Joel Embiid had himself a night. He scored 21 of his 39-points by half-time. He imposed his will on both sides of the ball. He had it working from the perimeter and the paint. The Nets had no answer for him, as they had nobody big enough to check a player of his caliber.
On what has played a factor in the team’s dominant play, “When you play in Philly, they’re going to push you…in Philly that’s played a huge role in how dominant we’ve been at home. You don’t want to get booed,” said Embiid.
The Brooklyn Nets did continue to fight in this game. They were able to retake the lead early in the second quarter. Thanks to the strong play of guard Kyrie Irving. He had 23 of his 39-points by half-time. However, the Sixers would immediately take it back and by half-time they did have a five-point lead.
The third quarter is where Philly really showed their dominance and won the game. They scored 29-points and outscored Brooklyn by three-points. They were able to extend the lead to eight over Brooklyn thanks to that outburst. Forward Tobias Harris really established himself during the fourth quarter. He scored 26-points. Really imposed his will on both sides of the ball, by attacking the paint and punishing the smaller defenders of the Nets. He also shutdown the paint and forced the Nets shooters into difficult shots.
On a potential playoff match-up between Philly and Brooklyn, “When the playoffs start, it’s a whole new beast. And we’ll be ready for them, and I’m sure they’ll be ready for us,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Brooklyn was able to make it interesting late in the game and cut the lead to five-points. However, the Sixers were able to hold on thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting. Now Philly prepares for the Los Angeles Clippers. They will need another strong night on both sides of the ball to hold the Clippers down and come out with a victory.