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Nets focused on offensive rebounding in limiting Sixers’ attack

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

The Brooklyn Nets kept things competitive against Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of Game 1, only for it all to fall apart in the second half, as the visitors lost 121-101. Brooklyn could only watch as a barrage of long-range Philly daggers fell through the hoop. The Sixers connected on a record-setting 21 threes on Saturday afternoon.

Despite much of the damage being done from beyond the arc, Brooklyn’s forwards know that the real work has to be done down low, working the glass. Philadelphia snagged 38 rebounds to Brooklyn’s 35, with 14 coming on the offensive end.

When asked at shootaround what the main adjustment heading into Game 2, Dorian-Finney Smith said, “we’ve got to rebound. I think that’s something we can control.” Smith was one of the Mavs’ top offensive rebounders in last year’s playoffs with five games where he garnered three or more.

Cam Johnson, another February acquisition with deep postseason experience, cited “effort” as what’s needed to change.

“A lot of their threes came off offensive rebounds, second-chance points. Got to limit those and just continue to play hard. At a certain point you have to live with results when you’re in heavy rotation [after double-teaming Joel Embiid].”

The Sixers tallied 21 second-chance points to the Nets’ mere 3. That resulted in 19 extra field goal attempts for Philly. Not a small number came from deep. The Nets, who have often vocalized their desire to put up 40+ threes on a nightly basis, only had the opportunity to launch 29 attempts.

“Look, it’s gonna be a physical game,” Finney-Smith said of Monday’s contest. “We’ve got to want it to be physical and expect it to be physical. So we’ve got to meet that challenge. I feel like PJ ... affected the game just by his aggression and his activity, and we’ve just got to match it.

The Nets know Tucker well after he gave their former superstar Kevin Durant all he had in the second round of the 2021 Playoffs, making Durant work every point. Tucker snatched five offensive rebounds and seven total in Game 1. As a team, the Nets only had five, led by Day’Ron Sharpe’s two.

“Sometimes when you’re guarding somebody like that and he’s lurking for offensive rebounds you got to accept the fact that you might not get the defensive rebound but if you move him out of the way that’s a big plus,” Johnson said of Tucker. “So in the second-half last game I was more focused on hitting him, getting him out of the way, rather than me going to get the ball myself, but just consistent efforts and consistent physicality.”

The Nets tried on more than one occasion to sign Tucker, a friend of Kevin Durant’s, but to no avail. Too bad.