WHAT: The Brooklyn Nets “stole” game 1 from the 76ers while on the road, and on Monday night they look to steal another. The 76ers are swirling right now and the momentum is on the Nets’ side - time to take advantage? Time to take advantage.
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. EST
HOW: YES, NBCSP; TNT
THE STORY: Preview
Embiid was able to put up a huge line of 22 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 blocks. The line, however, is a bit deceiving. Anyone watching the game could tell Embiid looked slow and hurt, and if not for his 18 free throw attempts, of which he hit 12, his overall performance would have looked much different. He wasn’t great on defense other than when he parked himself under the rim to block shots because however hurt he might be, he’s still a enormous human being. Embiid was only able to play just 24 minutes, and Boban Marjanovic and Jonah Bolden had to pick up those lost minutes. Boban looked decent offensively, but he’s immobile. Defensively, he is just not going to hold up for an entire series like that.
The only other complaint I have was that the Nets at times looked like they were thinking a little too much, specifically about their shots in the paint. A few too many times we saw Spencer Dinwiddie or Caris LeVert blow past their man, only to be met by either Marjanovic or Embiid at the rim and passed it out to someone else rather than going up and challenging them with a shot. The Nets took half as many free throws as the Sixers and this is part of the reason why. The Cerberus of Dinwiddie, LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell looked great in this one, but an even more aggressive approach might serve the Nets well. Especially if Embiid is still hurting and/or out of shape.
For more on the 76ers, check out: Liberty Ballers
There was speculation that Jimmy Butler was saving himself for the playoffs during this regular season and man did he play well enough to lend credibility to that theory. He was really great and the team should allow him to do much more pick-and-rolls. He should be the primary initiator of the offense period, and he should not hesitate to take a few pull up 3s.
Ideally the team will not wait until the 4th quarter when it’s (closing time) or until they allow an 18-1 run and everyone panics to dial his number. They need a healthy dose of Butler from the jump in game two and they should do what they can to get him out there with floor spacers. Ben screening for him and 3 shooters beyond the arc would solve a few of the spacing issues. Sometimes it feels like the Sixers have 2 modes: Jimmy time and not Jimmy time. Ideally he is heavily involved and blended in a bit more both as a scorer and play maker.