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The End: 76ers eliminate Nets from the playoffs in Game 5, 122-100

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Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Five Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA, P.A. — When the music’s over, turn out the lights. The fat lady sung her last words and just like that, Brooklyn’s improbable season has come to an end.

They lost the series 4-1. They won Game 1 and that was it.

The final final score was 122-100, Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. You would’ve hoped the Nets would’ve had a better showing after falling down 3-1 in a series that had close games, off-court and on-court drama, scrums and so much more.

That wasn’t the case.

In fact, the off-season began in the first quarter. The Nets missed 14 of their first 15 shots and turned the ball over five times as the Sixers took a 23-2 lead. The crowd was hostile, fans booed Jared Dudley as much as they could and the Nets looked like they didn’t belong. They went down 60-31 at half and it was over. It got as bad as a 39-point deficit entering the fourth.

Game over.

“I was just so disappointed in our shot selection to start. Our first six shots were just uncharacteristic. Now, credit their defense—I thought they were locked in, I thought they were swarming us. We really couldn’t get by them,” said Kenny Atkinson.

Season over.

“This is good. Beating Brooklyn and advancing to the second round. This is good. And it can’t be discredited like, ‘Oh, you should’. On paper, we should, but you’re still playing against a team that was a team. They had a hell of a year. I give Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks credit,” 76ers head coach Brett Brown said after the game.

The one silver lining from the game — Caris LeVert played his heart out and showed exactly why everybody was so high on him before the injury. He finished the night with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while finishing the series averaging 21 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 56 percent from three.

Other than LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Rodions Kurucs were the only other Nets to finish in double figures.

D’Angelo Russell was another case. Ben Simmons locked him up all series, including Tuesday, where he shot 3-of-16 from the field. He averaged 22 points per game this series, but shot 37 percent from the field.

Joe Harris was locked down all night, again. He hit his first three-pointer in the second quarter Tuesday — his first three since Game 1. He shot just 19 percent from three and averaged 8.8 points per game.

“I think their defense on Joe Harris [changed the series],” said Atkinson after the game. That really slowed us down. They [were] top-locking him and he’s kind of our engine. I know the Nets and the Sixers—it was a tussle and we had our words, but tremendous respect for Brett [Brown], tremendous respect for the Sixers organization. It’s a hell of a team.”

DeMarre Carroll finished the night with eight points and he, too, struggled all series as well, averaging six points on 21 percent shooting.

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“We’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder ... we’re as motivated as ever,” Kenny Atkinson said at practice prior to Game 5.

Atkinson was fired up, but the team simply couldn’t get by the big dog Sixers.

They could’ve entered Tuesday with a 2-2 series tie, but they committed five turnovers in the final 10 possessions in Game 4, which ultimately cost them a game in the series.

There’s no way to spin this game into something positive. It was an absolute bloodbath from start to finish and it’s a bittersweet feeling considering how far Brooklyn has come — from 28 wins to 42 wins and a six seed. They fought and scrapped nearly every game this year and it was very unlike them to fold the way they did Tuesday.

“We have a long way to go. We understand where we are. The level where the Sixers are is a long ways away,” said Atkinson post-game. “Tremendous respect for Brett and the Sixers organization. I think they can compete for a championship, quite honestly.”

With all that being said, when you take a step back — maybe two — the Nets shouldn’t have been here. The playoffs were house money for the Nets and they still managed to make this series interesting.

At the end of the day, they were outmatched.

Joel Embiid finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes. He averaged 20 points and more than 10 rebounds in 20 minutes per game this series.

Ben Simmons finished with 13 points and six assists. He averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per game this series.

Tobias Harris finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. He averaged 19 points and nine rebounds on 38 percent shooting from deep.

The Sixers are a team built for now and the Nets are a team that’s just getting started. Perhaps we saw a preview of a fun rivalry for years to come — The Process vs. The Progress. All of this is worth noting as the Nets will have one — maybe two — max slots for free agents this upcoming summer.

The sad part isn’t that the Nets came up short in the playoffs. Nobody expected them to win the championship or even compete in the first round. It’s sad because it marks the end of a very fun season — the season the Brooklyn Nets turned the corner.

“We can’t wait to attack the summer and attack those things,” said LeVert in his final post-game conference of the season.

ONE LAST FIGHT

With less than two minutes left, Rodions Kurucs and Jonah Bolden got into the last scrum of the series and it resulted in four ejections, the two protagonists as well as Dzanan Musa and Greg Monroe. It featured a great staredown.

The 6’10” (6’9 3/4” in sneakers) Latvian finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, hitting 2-of-3 from deep, all in 14 minutes. Tough kid.

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

THANKS ALL AROUND

From Mikhail Prokhorov to Theo Pinson, Nets thanked the players, the fans, the organization. Here’s a sampling...

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NEXT UP: Bag Day and Exit interviews Wednesday. We’ve got you covered.

From everybody at NetsDaily, we’d like to thank everybody for their support all season. It was one helluva ride.