Coming off of Villanova’s NCAA Tournament win (and a little over two months after the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory), the Philadelphia 76ers looked to continue the winning with a victory against Brooklyn. The Nets, coming off of a loss against the Detroit Pistons, were looking to take a win against Philly to even the season series.
With Allen Crabbe out due to illness, Joe Harris stepped into the Nets’ starting lineup. The Nets were able to take a 5-point lead against the Sixers, on the back of smooth ball movement and strong perimeter shooting. But the Sixers were able to strike back to end the first quarter, going on an 11-0 run. Notable Net killers Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova led the way for Philly to make the comeback, along with super rookie Ben Simmons.
The Nets’ offense literally came at the lines in the first half. They didn’t score a two-point field goal in the first half, with all of their points coming from three or from the free throw line.
🔥 TEN THREES 🔥
No twos yet pic.twitter.com/TDlJaUUmbx
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 3, 2018
The Nets’ first two-point field goal came with 6:42 left in the second quarter, on a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson slice to the basket. The Nets came close to tying and taking the lead back in the second, but the Sixers maintained their cushion on the back of Ben Simmons. In 17 first half minutes, Simmons tallied 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. By halftime, the Nets trialed the 76ers, 61-49. While Brooklyn’s 44.4% from the three-point line was impressive, they were severely outrebounded, 25-16 at the half.
The Sixers were able to match Brooklyn’s hot perimeter shooting. Robert Covington shot effectively from all areas on the perimeter. J.J. Redick was creating opportunities from inside the arc due to the threat of his perimeter shot. Strong shooting by several Nets (Harris, Carroll and Dinwiddie) wasn’t enough as the 76ers lead continued to grow in the third. Philly broke the game wide open, taking a lead over 20-point lea and not leading back. DeMarre Carroll exited the game with an injury as Philly extended their lead, making matters worse. The Nets’ play got sloppy, committing 7 turnovers in the third. By the end of the quarter, the Nets were down 22, 93-71, sunk by a 32-point quarter from the Sixers.
The fourth quarter was mostly garbage time, with a few Nets playing extended minutes. Milton Doyle, Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas all tried their best to make an impact late in the season. For Okafor, it was his first in game action since St. Patrick’s Day against the Mavericks. Of the three, Stauskas looked the most impressive, shooting, handling and looking energetic (despite Michigan losing the National Championship on Monday night.)
Sauce gets the roll pic.twitter.com/XXL4MEmLSh
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 4, 2018
The Nets were unable to even cut the lead to less than 15, with the game decided midway through the third. Despite Brooklyn’s strong start, the Nets were unable to keep up the pace. It was a loss marked by the Nets’ same consistent inconsistencies – poor rebounding, streaky shooting and turnovers. The Nets fell to 25-53 on the season. Now it’s onto the final games of 2017-2018.
Dante Cunningham Power Forward
3 PTS, 2 REBS, 1 AST
This is purely for NCAA tournament celebrations. Last night, the Villanova Wildcats won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, beating the Michigan Wolverines. Cunningham, the former Wildcat, must have been on cloud 9 after the win – and thrilled to be playing in his former college town, Philly to boot. While it wasn’t a win for his current team, Cunningham was a proud former Nova Wildcat on Tuesday.
Nik Stauskas Shooting Guard
13 PTS, 3 REBS, 2 ASTS, 3-6 3PTM
On the other side of National Championship hopes, Nik Stauskas didn’t let a Michigan loss bring him down. Playing extended minutes with the absence of Allen Crabbe, Stauskas played confidently. A free agent this season, could this be his audition for another season in Brooklyn?
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
4 PTS, 4 ASTS, 3 REBS, 0-4 3PTM
LeVert, a teammate of Stauskas at Michigan, didn’t have the most impressive of games. LeVert was unable to get anything going, missing a few open looks from three and unable to penetrate fully in the paint. It was a disappointing game for LeVert, who’s looked impressive as of late.
Jahlil Okafor Center
15 PTS, 5 REBS, 7-9 FGM
Garbage time minutes or not, Okafor showed his potential as a low post scorer. He was able to take advantage on the block against his former team. While the circumstances weren’t ideal, Jah’s game was on display – and it was (mostly) good! He even made a three pointer!