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Game 3: Nets come home looking to beat 76ers

2023 NBA Playoffs - Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The effort is there, but the result isn’t. The Brooklyn Nets put up a heck of a fight, but the Philadelphia 76ers proved to be too much as they went on to beat the Nets 96-84 on Monday night. The Sixers are up 2-0 as this series moves to Brooklyn.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and TNT on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Ben Simmons, but his rehab is going well.

Jalen McDaniels is questionable with a non COVID illness.

The game

If you’re old enough, you are well aware of the fine art of gaming the officials. Phil Jackson could write an encyclopedia about it. Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder went to the fine arts when she compared rebounding against against the then undefeated University of South Carolina basketball team as a barfight. And now, Joel Embiid is deploying the fine arts to help James Harden:

“He was aggressive and it’s kinda crazy that he’s not getting any free throws. I thought he’s been getting fouled a lot. I don’t think he’s been to the free-throw line at all during these two games, which is kind of insane to think about. So hopefully they change that.”

Considering how much of a free throw machine James Edward Harden has been over the past decade, it’s surprising that he hasn’t gone to the free throw line once in his last three playoff games (the first two here and Game 6 last season vs the Miami Heat). The Sixers will try to create some more space for Harden, but they need The Beard to finish better at the basket when he gets there. Harden’s 2-point game has been completely non-existent and as anyone who’s watched basketball knows, three point shooting comes and goes. Being able to finish at the rim opens up new possibilities for Harden and the Philly offense.

However, the big question will be if the Nets can slow down Embiid. The big guy had another great stat line of 20 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks on 54 percent shooting from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. What made the Nets happy about that was Embiid tying his playoff career high of eight turnovers, set in Game 7 of the 2021 playoff loss to the Hawks in 2021 (the game where he criticized Ben Simmons for passing on a dunk.). It was a sea of arms crowding the big fella whenever he got the ball

Nic Claxton and friends will try to keep him off balance tonight and make everyone else on the team beat them. They’ve stuck to the plan so far, and we’ll see if they can

As I’m sure you all know, we are a pro dunking on people website. And with that...

Well alright!

Since coming to the Nets, Cam Johnson has gradually shown more and more of his arsenal. Johnson scored 28 points and did it in a variety of ways. He was able to drive to the basket, score off the dribble, attack the midrange, and was great from three point range.

Playoff series are when bench players get their chance and make a major mark on the series. For many Nets fans, they’re wondering if Cam Thomas can be that spark plug that gives the offense some punch. The coaching staff hasn’t gone to Thomas when the regulars are here, but desperate times call for desperate measures and for a team that’s facing a must win, they’re going to need everybody ready to contribute at a moment’s notice. We’ve seen Thomas heat up before, so can he do it again under the bright lights of the postseason? If given the chance, we’ll see.

The shot wasn’t there for Mikal Bridges on Monday night, but he did hand out seven assists in his 41 minutes of work. The playmaking is the next step of Bridges’ evolution, and if he’s able to grow that skill even more, he can take that next leap.

Players tend to play better at home in the postseason, and for a tough, prideful group like the Nets, they’re going to come out swinging.

Player to watch: Tyrese Maxey

The thing about great teams is when you take away the first option or the second option, the third will be there to get you. That’s what happened to the Nets as Tyrese Maxey lit ‘em up for 33 points with six made 3-pointers. With all the attention Brooklyn threw at Embiid, Maxey was able to cash in on open looks and make the Nets pay early and often

Brooklyn will need to make sure that their defensive rotations are in perfect harmony so they don’t let the 76ers get easy shots all over the court.

The Nets want to pick up the pace, and that starts with Spencer Dinwiddie. After practice on Wednesday, Dinwiddie was asked about playing a faster game and he said:

“You wanna attack early in transition. The best quality shots typically are early in the shot clock, just by the numbers and the points per possession, they tell us all the time. Kick it ahead a lot obviously...get into our plays a little bit quicker. That’s one of the things that in this series so far we haven’t done a great at and that we kinda drilled in the practice today.”

The Nets are facing one of the best halfcourt defenses in the league, and if they can keep forcing turnovers, they can get some easy baskets and give the crowd plenty to cheer for.

From the Vault

Nets coming home after losing the first two games of a series to an MVP caliber big man? We’ve been here before

Here’s a fun fact for those old enough to appreciate. After getting traded from the Raptors in December 2004, Carter averaged 27.5 points a game. That’s the second highest mid-season turnaround after a trade in Nets franchise history. John Williamson averaged 29.5 in 1977-78 after being traded from Indiana. Mikal Bridges is third at 26.1. Heady company.

More reading: Liberty Ballers