2. Joel Embiid
If there’s one thing we know about the Nets defense, it’s that it struggles to slow down dominant big men. If 76ers star Joel Embiid doesn’t fall under that category, then nobody does, as he was very much the MVP favorite before a knee injury derailed his chances of winning the award.
In three meetings against the Nets this season, Embiid has absolutely feasted, averaging 30.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists on 46.9% shooting.
If those stats don’t prove Brooklyn is incapable of stopping Embiid (they obviously do), we should also point out that he’s averaging 10 free throws per game vs the Nets and is knocking them down at an 86.7% clip, which is astounding for a 7-footer.
If the regular season was any indication, the Nets are going to have trouble stopping Joel Embiid in the playoffs.
If you can believe it, DeAndre Jordan actually did a number on Embiid when the two teams squared off last month, limiting him to just 6-for-16 from the floor in the first half. That was about as good of a job as any player has done defending Embiid this season, though he still amassed 21 points.
As a result, the Nets sent more double teams his way in the second half, which somehow managed to get him into a groove offensively. In the final two quarters, Embiid recorded 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, leading Philly to a big win.
The lesson? Maybe try Jordan on him again and see what happens. If not, then send more effective (emphasis on effective) double teams, force him to pass and let one of the 76ers’ less-talented offensive players beat you.
Regardless of whether there’s a solution (there probably isn’t one), the Nets should dread a playoff matchup vs Philadelphia because it seems like a foregone conclusion that Embiid is going to torch them and post an absurd stat line.