When the 2022-2023 NBA season began, the Brooklyn Nets hoped to embark on a championship journey. For a while, it looked like everything was going according to plan. However, things went haywire and everything changed suddenly. To the Nets’ credit, they stuck with the program and earned their playoff spot. It’s a long road to 16 wins, but stranger things have happened and the Nets are hoping they can shock the world.
Awaiting the Nets will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Doc Rivers and friends are looking to finally break through and go on an extended playoff run. Philly has been one of the best teams in the NBA in recent years and a long playoff run would be a tremendous accomplishment for a franchise that hasn’t made it past the second round since Allen Iverson’s MVP peak. The road begins here.
Where to follow the game
MY9, YES Network app and ESPN on TV. WFAN on radio. We’re batting leadoff for the NBA Playoffs so the party’s getting started after 1:00 p.m.
No Ben Simmons. That’s it. Everyone else is healthy. The Nets two two-ways, RaiQuan Gray and Dru Smith, are ineligible for the post-season.
Danuel House had been dealing with a foot injury, but he and all the other Sixers are good to go.
Philly swept the regular season series. Based on the roster construction of the Nets and the changing circumstances of each contest, there really isn’t too much to take away from those games so let’s keep it moving.
James Harden’s health is one of the biggest questions in this series. Our old friend has been dealing with an Achilles injury since March, and that type of injury is the scariest injury in the game. He’s gotten time to rest up, and now that we’re in the postseason, he’ll be out there for his usual 34+ minutes. The bitterness surrounding his exit from Brooklyn is long gone, so he and everyone else can move on to the competition aspect of things without the personal animosity attached to it.
For the Nets, they have to figure out how to handle the assignments when they switch. Harden took it to Joe Harris every time he got the switch, and the Nets will try to scheme to limit that from happening.
When you’re online, you tend to find yourself in the news. That’s where Spencer Dinwiddie found himself as he engaged in a war of words with his former Washington Wizards teammate, Kyle Kuzma. Silly as it was, Dinwiddie has more pressing matters on his hands starting today. The Nets need a downhill threat, and they will need Dinwiddie to continue striking the right balance between getting shots for himself and creating good looks for his teammates.
When you’re trying to pull off an upset, you need to be on fire from 3-point range. Brooklyn revamped their offense to be more three point heavy, and towards the end of the season, players like Cam Johnson and Joe Harris will be absolutely essential to the Nets’ chances. Same with former Sixer and Doc Rivers’ son-in-law, Seth Curry. The Nets like to aim for at least 40 3-pointers a night, and they’ve got to make their fair share if they want to stay close to Philly.
The Nets will try to push the tempo and get Philly on the run as much as possible. Post All Star break, the 76ers were 29th in pace, averaging only 96 possessions per game. After the break, the Nets were ninth best in opponent’s turnover rate, and if they can force the Sixers into mistakes, it will help them find easy buckets in transition.
Meanwhile, Harden once again talked about his decision to force a trade in the middle of last season. The now 33-year-old said he felt vindicated by what happened after he asked out, meaning the subsequent trades of the other members of the Big Three.
“I don’t want to really go into that. But there’s a lot of internal things that was going on, which was one of the reasons why I made my decision,” Harden said after the 76ers’ practice Friday afternoon. “And everybody talked down on me and gave me negative feedback or whatever you want to call it.
“But now fast forward today, nobody’s like, OK, James was smart, James knew what he was doing. Which I don’t want credit, but it’s like, I’m happy where they are now. I mean, best of luck to those guys and [Nets owner] Joe Tsai and that organization. They turned what they had into something really good, so they’re in the playoffs and nothing but great, great talk about those guys and organization.”
Player to watch: Joel Embiid
Say hello to the likely MVP. It’s been a long journey here for The Process, and his amazing play has made all the lean years worth it. The big guy destroyed all competition this season to the tune of 33.1 points on .548/.333/.857 shooting splits. Not to be outdone, “The Process” also averaged ten rebounds and close to two blocks a game. Embiid will wear opponents out, and the early strategy from the Nets will probably focus on doubling him every chance they get. As Paul Hudrick mentioned above, Embiid is a much better passer now than before and he’ll look to make the right play every time Brooklyn throws something new at him.
Nic Claxton had an All Defensive team caliber season and put together the best season of his young career. He made gains in a variety of areas, and this series will put all of them to the ultimate test. Claxton held his own against Embiid and didn’t back down when pressed by the big fella. The Nets will look to give him as much as he needs and throw a series of doubles at Embiid. With Claxton being as important as he is, he has to avoid getting into foul trouble. Day’ron Sharpe will get his first real playoff minutes as Clax’s backup, and he’s going to be counted on to help fix Brooklyn’s rebounding woes. It’s going to take everybody on the roster pushing in the right direction if the Nets want to pull off the upset.
From the Vault
Your future’s my past, I’ve been here before
More reading: Liberty Ballers
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Philadelphia 76ers Game Notes - Philadelphia 76ers
- Sixers embracing pressure ahead of Game 1 vs. Nets - STATS
- 76ers take aim at Nets, hope for 1st NBA title since 1983 - Dan Gelston - AP
- Nets’ starless roster in NBA playoffs with no Durant, Irving - Brian Mahoney - AP
- 76ers’ James Harden isn’t over criticism of trade from Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets looking to steal Game 1 from heavily favored 76ers: ‘It’s the tone’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets will need team effort to slow down MVP hopeful Joel Embiid - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Nets face tough test in trying to slow down 76ers’ James Harden - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Spencer Dinwiddie fires back at Kyle Kuzma after ‘Dins–ttie’ attack - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Former Nets star James Harden prefers to focus on what he’s going to do - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Nets’ Seth Curry all business entering matchup against former team, father-in-law Doc Rivers - Evan Barnes - Newsday
- Why Nic Claxton could be Nets’ most important player vs. 76ers - Evan Barnes - Newsday
- Spencer Dinwiddie responds to Kyle Kuzma’s tweets - Evan Barnes - Newsday
- Nets plan to wear MVP front runner Joel Embiid down - Kristian WInfield - New York Daily News
- Mikal Bridges accepts challenge as No. 1 playoff option - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Spencer Dinwiddie vs. Kyle Kuzma beef timeline - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets-Sixers playoff preview: Nic Claxton vs. Joel Embiid, X-factors, prediction and more - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Sixers-Nets preview: Doubling Joel Embiid, Mikal Bridges vs. P.J. Tucker and more - Rich Hofmann - The Athletic
- Mikal Bridges envisioned his rise far before trade to Nets — it just took a little longer - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- NBA playoffs 2023: Schedule, news, highlights, scores, more - ESPN
- Nets - Sixers series preview and prediction for the 2023 NBA playoffs - David Vertsberger - SNY
- Will the playoffs be Mikal Bridges’ coming out party? - David Vertsberger - SNY
- James Harden sends playoff warning to NBA ahead of Sixers-Nets showdown - Angelo Guinhawa - Clutch Points
- Nets’ offensive ‘message’ on how to upset Joel Embiid, Sixers - Erik Slater - Clutch Points
- Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie scoffs at Sixers’ ‘hostile’ playoff environment ahead of first-round matchup - Erik Slater - Clutch Points
- 25 things to know about Sixers-Nets as Game 1 of their first-round series approaches - Ed Barkowitz - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Why players around the NBA want P.J. Tucker on their side — and hate to face him - Gina Mizell - Philadelphia Inquirer