The Brooklyn Nets start to their postseason run against the 76ers didn’t go as planned on Saturday afternoon. Brooklyn fell short on the road in a 121-101 loss, despite an impressive offensive performance from Mikal Bridges.
If the Nets want to steal a game on the road, Jacque Vaughn and company know there will be adjustments to be made.
In the first half, Mikal Bridges had 23 points in the game and managed to keep the Nets within striking distance, trailing by only nine points. The 26-year-old finished the game with a game-high 30 points on 12-18 shooting and 2-4 from three. Aside from his impressive playoff debut with the Nets, Philadelphia managed to slow down the Villanova product in the second half. As a result of Bridge’s lackluster second half, the Nets offense stalled, allowing the Sixers to pull away in front of their home crowd.
Despite the disappointing first game, the team did show some positive signs. The Nets mixture of defensive coverages thrown at Joel Embiid seemed to limit the MVP frontrunner to an extent. Embiid finished with 26 points on 7/15 shooting from the field. Although the stat line doesn’t show a limited outing, the center is capable of doing much more damage than the Nets allowed.
Brooklyn needs to adjust
Brooklyn trailed for the majority of the game, but the team definitely didn’t help themselves close the gap. With a very small margin of error to begin with, the Nets continuously shot themselves in the foot and gave Philadelphia every chance to pull ahead.
The Nets ended the game with 20 turnovers, compared to the Sixers nine. Philadelphia took advantage of Brooklyn’s sloppy play and made them pay. The 76ers scored 31 of their 121 points just off of Nets turnovers. An error that simply can’t happen if the No. 6 seed holds onto any hope of upsetting the No. 3 seed.
Philly also outmuscled the Nets inside the paint, grabbing 14 rebounds and continuously giving themselves second-chance points. Brooklyn will have to increase their physicality in the series to give themselves an opportunity to play to their potential.
Brooklyn will also have to adjust to the Sixers defensive strategy of blitzing Bridges to get the ball out of his hands. For the Nets offense to thrive, Bridges ability to have the ball in his hands will be a necessity. Head coach Jacque Vaughn will need to find a way to avoid allowing Philadelphia to eliminate their primary offensive threat, or the Nets offense will continue to struggle.
Nonetheless, if Brooklyn can put together a full game and clean up the mistakes, the young group has shown the capability to go toe-to-toe with the Sixers.