Game 5: Now or Never, Nets’ Season Hangs in the Balance

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Time: 8:00 PM EST
Location: Wells Fargo Center
Watch: TNT
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM

The Brooklyn Nets currently trail the Philadelphia 76ers 3-1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs following a 112-108 heartbreaking loss Saturday afternoon.

Game 4 was the most intense and drama-heavy of the series so far, from beginning to end. There were fights and fines aplenty, but with the dust finally settled, the Nets are still down and on the brink of elimination. They’ve already made a statement just by making it to the playoffs and capped it off with a win, but this will be their most important game of the season. They are going on the road to Philadelphia to fight for their postseason lives. It’s going to be one heck of a show.
This is what they’re going to need to come out on top and bring it back to Brooklyn.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Where Did Joe Harris Go?

First of all, Joe Harris has not been bad in this series. He has actually been quite good, with some great cuts to the basket and pesky, persistent defense. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough. After hitting three of his four three-point attempts in the first game, he has failed to sink once since. He is shooting about 18 percent throughout the series, and that isn’t good enough from the Three-Point Contest champion and regular season three-point percentage leader. He isn’t the only culprit, as DeMarre Carroll has struggled from deep and Treveon Graham has yet to hit a three, but he is the most important.

The Nets are going to need Joey Buckets firing on all cylinders if they want to hold on.

2. Jared Dudley Does It All

Alright, I’m just gonna say it: I TOLD Y’ALL THAT JARED DUDLEY IS THE GOAT.

Seriously though, Dudley has been the motor and heart of this team so far and one of the most valuable players when he has been on the court. His smart defense both on- and off-ball is invaluable to a young squad still finding their footing in the bright lights of the playoffs. Arguably, losing him in return for Jimmy Butler was not worth it. He led the team in plus-minus in Game 4 and is plus-28 through the three games he has played, even though the Nets have been outscored by 11 combined points across those contests.

His box score doesn’t jump out but his impact is huge and he will be a big factor if the team manages to extend this series.

3. D’Angelo Russell Needs to be the MVP

D’Angelo Russell is the Brooklyn Nets.

The team lives and dies by his play — so although Russell has been fairly good, especially for a player getting his first taste of the increased intensity of the postseason, that won’t be enough to topple the 76ers. He has taken the most shots on the team in each game but hasn’t posted a positive plus-minus in the series yet either. He does spend most of his minutes matched up against the terrifying starting five of Philadelphia, but he has the potential to be better.

There will be no greater stage than a back-against-the-wall elimination game in the hostile environment of Philadelphia. This is his moment. His time is now.

Without Russell, this team would not be here in the playoffs — now it is up to him to carry them back home.