On a Sunday afternoon, when there was no Eagles game to watch, the Philadelphia 76ers filled in that void for Philly fans. The Sixers took on a starless Nets team at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the matinee matchup.
A monster game for the MVP
Joel Embiid was determined to have a big game. Not only was he the first person out on the floor around 2:00 pm shooting around by himself, but he also was the only person still shooting around while the Nets players were being introduced and the cheerleaders were doing their routine.
It wasn’t easy, as Embiid was swarmed at the offset of the game. He missed a few shots that he typically makes, but the reality was that Nic Claxton was no match for the power of the reigning MVP.
He was dominant in every aspect of the game. He scored from everywhere, secured the most rebounds for the team, and flirted with a triple-double with nine assists. Was there something a little extra with this game because Ben Simmons was on the sideline? We will probably never know.
Like in the playoffs last season, Brooklyn threw every double team at him, but Embiid found ways to be productive. He made correct passes, measured his ability to get an open shot, or found a way to draw contact and got to the line ten times total.
The Sixers’ backcourt in sync
The Sixers backcourt of Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton had quite a game themselves. From the 3-point line, they were on fire. Combined, they shot 10-17 beyond the arc. It wasn’t until the second half that Maxey’s offensive outburst took place, but De’Anthony Melton carried the guards’ scoring load in the first half with his display of superb shooting.
Maxey was more of a distributor in the first two quarters, making solid passes to the open man and being prudent with the basketball. His ten assists were the highest for the Sixers on the afternoon.
Melton did a superb job defensively as well, cutting off passing lanes and racking up steals that lead to key fast breaks. He anticipated passes and intercepted passes like a safety at key points of their run.
The Nets are very young
As players were introduced, about half an hour before tip-off on the Jumbotron, it was apparent how youthful this team had been constructed. Just two years ago, at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn fans were there to see Kevin Durant, Kyrie, Irving, and James Harden. Versus the Sixers, their biggest star was Mikal Bridges. Huge difference.
The former Villanova star and NCAA champion gave the Sixers fits in the first half. He did a decent job defensively in the first and second quarters, keeping the game close. He had the hot hand for the Nets, for sure. For some reason, though, that is unexplained; he completely disappeared in the third quarter.
When the Sixers started to really pull away after the half, the Nets had to call timeout. Philly had just caused a jump ball, and heading back to the huddle on the sideline, Bridges was aggravated and demonstrated as much as he let his teammates have it.
At that point, the way Maxey was shooting threes and dominating the court, it was too late for Bridges to do anything.
Sure, Lonnie Walker IV had the game’s highlight of the day with his monstrous dunk on five white jerseys, but even his 26 points were not enough to match the potent Sixers offense.
For Brooklyn, their fanbase will have to be patient with their young squad. It is hard to imagine this Nets team coming anywhere close to being a playoff contender.