Against the Brooklyn Nets
The Philadelphia 76ers ended January with their first of four meetings last season against the Brooklyn Nets, losing a 116-108 decision at Barclays Center that left them 24-24 heading into the final 10 weeks of the regular season.
Philadelphia would go on to win the remaining three games in the season series, part of a red-hot finishing kick that saw the 76ers win 28 of their final 34 games.
Last season (home team in CAPS)
Jan. 31: NETS 116, 76ers 108
March 11: 76ers 120, NETS 97
March 16: 76ERS 120, Nets 116
April 3: 76ERS 121, Nets 95
Nov. 4: at Brooklyn
Nov. 25: at Brooklyn
Dec. 12: at Philadelphia
March 28: at Philadelphia
Spencer Dinwiddie led the way for the Nets in their lone win over the 76ers, scoring 27 points, while Jarrett Allen held his own against All-Star Joel Embiid with 16 points and 12 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell popped in 22 points in just 16½ minutes off the bench.
Embiid finished with game-highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds and Ben Simmons added 24 points, but the Philadelphia bench was outscored 38-17 in the loss and Brooklyn scored a rare win on the glass, outrebounding the 76ers 39-33.
Sir Charles In Charge
In a season during which Brooklyn was bullied down low much of the season, it’s not a surprise that Embiid inflicted a lot of damage, scoring 74 points in three games against the Nets to go with 41 rebounds, nine assists and four blocks, but he shot just .390/3-for-11/.862.
Embiid was inactive for the 76ers’ blowout of the Nets on April 3, but still tied Simmons with 74 points against Brooklyn on the season. He had 19 rebounds in the win over the Nets on March 16.
It will be curious to see if the Brooklyn Nets — with lots of length on the wings and in the backcourt — can steal from the game plan used by the Boston Celtics in their second-round playoff victory over the 76ers.
For much of that series, the Celtics pressured the wings on the perimeter, picking up Robert Covington and J.J. Redick in particular sometimes as far as 40 feet from the basket.
They applied similar pressure to Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli and Dario Saric when they were in the game. The Celtics learned that none of Philadelphia’s shooters were particularly strong at creating off the dribble.
So they went all-in to prevent them from getting space to shoot from deep, forcing Covington and Redick in particular to put the ball on the floor.
The result was dozens of possessions where the ball was passed harmlessly around the perimeter before a desperation, well-covered shot was attempted late in the clock.
Is it a blueprint? Sure. Is it something Brooklyn can duplicate? Maybe. Guards Dinwiddie and Russell aren’t renowned for their glove-like defense, but DeMarre Carroll at the small forward is capable of that sort of pressure.
Whether Allen has gained the strength and experience necessary to at least slow down the mega-talented Embiid will likely have more to do with how the Nets fare against Philadelphia than anything Brooklyn does on the edges.