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Embiid’s big night exposed a BIG vulnerability for Nets

NBA: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It may be preseason, it may not matter, but Joel Embiid exploited one area where the Nets are thin. Literally and figuratively.

Playing in his first preseason game — and his first after signing a new $148 million contract — Embiid had his way with the Nets and scored 22 points in 15 minutes. He scored 14 of his points at the free-throw line. Timofey Mozgov was one of the few players on the Nets that could body Embiid. But aside from him, the Nets came up small. The 6’8” Quincy Acy covering the 7’0” Embiid didn’t bode too well, as Acy picked up four fouls in 23 minutes. Trevor Booker also picked up four fouls in 18 minutes. Embiid yelled, “You can’t stop me,” at one point. He was right.

Embiid showed a big vulnerability for Brooklyn defensively, and a big asset for Philadelphia, if he can remain healthy.

“Sure, no doubt about it,” Kenny Atkinson said about Acy and Booker’s assignment on Embiid. “You’ve got to make him pay on the other end if you can do that. Stretch him out, hit some threes.”

The Nets did not do that, and finished 13-of-37 from deep. The duo of Acy-Booker were 3-of-13 from the field. D’Angelo Russell offered praise for the 76ers big.

“He’s got it all. I don’t see any flaws in his game. Offensively he’s big as Shaq. He can shoot it like Dirk. He’s got the whole package. The league – as far as bigs – he’s going to make some noise this year,” Russell said about Embiid.

Atkinson admits the Nets were experimenting with some rotations, but still gave credit to Philly.

“Again, I think we tried some different things tonight. We weren’t real scouting-centric. It was more about us and our rotations, figuring out what we had to do. But at the end of the day, they really dominated in every aspect. I don’t know if there’s an area where we got the upper hand. Credit to them.”

As a result of Embiid’s work down low, the perimeter opened for Dario Saric and the Sixers. Saric got hot and nailed four straight in the second quarter, prompting the 76ers to a 46-point quarter that ultimately doomed the Nets.

It’s preseason. Moreover, it’s Joel Embiid, who is likely to pose big problems for most opponents. Still, the Nets showed they were thin in the frontcourt. Defense could very well be a big issue for the Nets.