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Game 3: 76ers regain series lead at 2-1 following 131-115 win in Brooklyn

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Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Even with Joel Embiid out, the Nets couldn’t snag the win. Even after being ridiculed on the podium following Game 2, the Nets weren’t nearly physical enough to stop Philadelphia. And even with the home crowd having their back, the Nets laid an egg at home and lost Game 3, 131-115, Thursday night at Barclays Center.

They now trail 2-1 in the series and Philly has regained home court advantage.

Ben Simmons is a great player in transition. And once you get him into halfcourt, he’s average,” Jared Dudley infamously said at Brooklyn’s practice Wednesday. Well, Simmons torched Brooklyn and scored a playoff career-high 31 points and nine assists on 11-of-13 shooting and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Maybe he saw this picture.

Still, the Nets had zero resistance on the defensive end.

Simmons wasn’t alone, Tobias Harris scored a playoff career-high 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds and a perfect 6-of-6 from three. The Nets couldn’t stick with J.J. Redick for a second straight game, and he scored 26 points with five three-pointers.

“I think we have to look at everything. It starts defensively in terms of what we have to do. I think we look at lineups. It’s only 1-2. We come back here Saturday and if we win, it’s a different series. I think we have to look at some different things. Obviously, what we have been doing the last two games is not working,” Kenny Atkinson said afterwards.

It just felt like they’d never get a stop.

And they really didn’t.

The 76ers led by as many as 18 in this game as the Nets went more than three minutes without a stop in in the third quarter. But, the Nets weren’t done. Spencer Dinwiddie converted on a four-point play and propelled the Nets on an 8-0 run to close out the quarter, bringing a 15-point deficit down to seven entering the fourth.

Then, D’Angelo Russell finally got going. Two mid-rangers turned into seven points, then nine points, then 11 straight points. The Nets brought it within six with less than nine minutes.

At that point, Brooklyn and Philly were just exchanging buckets and that was the issue. Brooklyn didn’t have nearly enough firepower to compete with Philly. Simmons converted on and-one and Harris slammed one home to cap off a 14-6 run, 15-point Sixers’ lead with 5:17 left.

And that was all she wrote.

“I think either way they’re a pretty tough team to defend,” said Caris LeVert. “Like D’Angelo (Russell) said, they’ve got specialists at each position. They kind of spread you out in shooters and then they have Simmons attacking the rim, so in either way – whatever lineup they have out there – they’re pretty tough to defend.”

LeVert did all he could with 19 points in the second quarter alone — 26 on the night. Russell also finished with 26 points in 30 minutes. As a whole, the Nets shot 41 percent from the field and 21 percent from three.

They were also out-rebounded by 11 and turned the ball over 15 times. And oh yeah, Dudley didn’t score.

“I mean, I think they’re just going to play a physical game of basketball. If we throw up a basket, they’re gonna go and get it. It’s kind of in their M.O. – as far as the technical I got, it’s less so them. That’s where I respect them,” said Dinwidide afterwards.

There’s something to be said about the minutes distribution going on. Russell played 30 minutes, LeVert played 28 and Dinwiddie played 26. They’ve been the three-headed monster for Brooklyn all season long and they should be playing more.’

Look at Philadelphia. Jimmy Butler played 37 minutes, Harris played 36 minutes, Redick played 34 and Simmons played 39.

But there was another problem: for the second straight game, Ed Davis played limited minutes because of his lingering right ankle soreness. After as 12 point, 16 rebound performance that fueled the Nets win in Game 1, Davis played only six minutes in Game 2 and 10 in Game 3. He was missed big time. His status for Game 4 on Saturday remains unknown.

Still, as Atkinson said, “We aren’t just happy to be here, we can compete with these guys.”

Well, then it’s time to play your best in order to beat one of the best.

Post-game audio can be found here.







For a different perspective, head on over to Liberty Ballers, our 76ers sister site on SB Nation.


Game 4 is Satuday, 3:00 p.m. ET!