Time: 8 PM EST
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO, TNT
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM
Things escalated very quickly on Monday night, that’s for sure. During the first two quarters, the Brooklyn Nets matched the Philadelphia 76ers’ energy for the second straight game. At the time, the 76ers held a 65-64 lead at halftime and it seemed like this game would come down to the wire.
Instead, Philadelphia tied an NBA record with 51 points in the third and walked into the fourth quarter with a 29 point advantage. It was basically curtains at that point, both benches were cleared and Philadelphia tied the series with a 145-123 win heading to Brooklyn.
That being said, there’s a real case to be made that Brooklyn has outplayed the Sixers in seven of the eight quarters played so far. Yeah, the Nets lost the first quarter of this game 34-28, but the higher-seeded team coming off of a loss on their home court were always going to come out with a different level of intensity.
The Nets were within six after one quarter with all of those circumstances says all you need to know about the resilience of this squad.
If anything, the 76ers still have trouble guarding Brooklyn’s backcourt. While the Nets as a whole have struggled, their three-headed attack has still been extremely productive. A raucous Barclay Center crowd and hopefully getting a healthier Jared Dudley and Ed Davis are going to help tremendously.
Three Things To Watch for:
1. Maybe more Shabazz?
This seems like a stretch and something that might not happen, but don’t be completely shocked if it does. With Philadelphia’s struggle to contain the Nets’ guards, there’s a scenario in which head coach Kenny Atkinson keeps two playmakers on the court at all times. Jimmy Butler has the defensive capabilities to give one ball handler some trouble, so the key is to take advantage of the not-so-good defense of J.J. Redick.
Yes, it was garbage time, but Shabazz Napier looked like he could handle some of the load on that front. With guard play being so central in the Nets’ offensive attack, it might suit them to play a guard who can put some pressure on the opposing defense and can give their core a much-needed break on occasion.
2. Boban Marjanovic
Taking Boban Marjanovic over Butler, Simmons and Embiid makes sense all day — but, dude, the Nets can’t keep dropping so deep in the paint on this guy. The big man has proven time and time again that he is more than capable of hitting shots from outside the paint. Also, Brooklyn has to continue exploiting the mismatch on defense with Marjanovic. Spencer Dinwiddie started doing this in the third quarter, so the Sixers called a timeout and subbed him out.
Brooklyn’s guards have to look for that switch every time and make Marjanovic unplayable.
3. A Special Kind of Retribution
So, flashback: Joel Embiid elbowed Jarrett Allen in the head and the former earned a flagrant foul. Allen, nonplussed as always, popped back up and keep going. During the postseason, Embiid and Simmons giggled during the center’s half-apology, which brought about Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley’s statement of disrespect in the following days.
After stunning the 76ers’ in Game 1, they were run out of town in the next one. Many are hoping Embiid’s words and actions will light a fire under the young Nets’ squad, push on a willingness to perform at home too. If Brooklyn wasn’t hungry beforehand, the events of Game 2 will certainly up the ante.
Now it’s time to see if they’re willing to respond both physically and mentally.
Game 3 is a biggie, but Brooklyn has proven they are more than willing to do the dirty work — game on.