By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers came into game two looking to ride the momentum from the previous game and take the commanding two-to-nothing lead over the outmatched Brooklyn Nets. However, the Nets made some key adjustments on the defensive end that Philly had some difficulty with. Thanks to what they were doing it took Philly awhile to get going but Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris made enough shots in this contest to help them put the Nets down 96-84 and take a two-to-nothing lead as the series shifts to Brooklyn on Thursday night.
Unlike the previous game the Sixers started this game off sluggishly, they could not hit their shots early in this game and Brooklyn took full advantage. The Sixers were able to put Tobias Harris on Mikal Bridges from the beginning of this game and that slowed him down. Unfortunately, Cam Johnson took full control of this game as he made it rain from beyond the arc. He hit five/11 three-pointers and scored 22 (a new playoff career high) of his 28-points in the first half and it did not matter who the Sixers put on him. He used his size advantage to rise up over the defender and made them pay for giving him any room to get the shots up. He single-handedly put the Nets up by double-digits in the first quarter tonight and was threatening to run them off their home-floor. Philly made an adjustment on the defensive end to slow him down by using a zone defensive scheme, and that forced the Nets to be perfect from the field and they just could not do it tonight.
Despite the scoring barrage from Johnson this game was still in reach for the Sixers who battled back to cut a double-digit lead to five-points by half-time. Previous Sixers team might have folded after getting dominated by a hungry Brooklyn team throughout two quarters. However, the Sixers were able to turn up the defensive pressure in the second half and that forced the Nets into making some ill-advised passes which propelled the fast break opportunities for Philly. They were able to retake the lead thanks to Tyrese Maxey (33-points and hit six/13 three-pointers tonight) and Tobias Harris (20-points and grabbed 12-rebounds) who combined for 53 of the Sixers’ 96-points both players lifted Philly over the finish line tonight they did enough to keep them in the game and when they were finally able to take the lead back it was them who hit key shots to propel the scoring run. This was a better game for Maxey who dominated this game tonight and put his fingerprints all throughout this game. It was his defensive effort up top that limited the Nets three-point opportunities and he put Spencer Dinwiddie in jail tonight. The one knock on Maxey has been his defensive capability and he has continued to improve on that to where it helped the Sixers tonight to comeback in this game. Maxey had the responsibility to guard the top of the key when Philly switched to a three-two zone and he stopped several Nets offensive drives by moving his feet and not fouling. If Maxey can continue to play good defense throughout the postseason the Sixers will make a deep playoff run. Tobias Harris had another great game as well. He has been a key piece for the Sixers in this series and if he continues to find his stroke from the three-point line then the sky’s the limit for Philly.
This series now shifts to Brooklyn for game three on Thursday night and if the Sixers want to get their third win in this series, they need to trust their offensive reads. Tonight, they were slowed down by doing too much and not making the right plays. Philly will need to continue to use their ball movement to find the best shot to maximize their offensive capabilities, when they started to make their comeback tonight the ball was moving and found the open man. They will need to continue to do that if they want to end this series in four games. Additionally, they will need to bring the defensive for four quarters and stay attached to their man. They lost Cam Johnson several times in this contest and that led to some wide-open corner threes that propelled his scoring output tonight. The Sixers will need to keep their eyes on both him and Bridges and force someone else to beat them. They will need to implement these things if they want to get their third victory of this playoff series.