Nets’ Three-Headed Hydra Burns Philadelphia In Game 1

A

Final: 04/13/2019

W 111 102

People who have been watching and analyzing the NBA for years will frequently tell you that a playoff series hasn’t really started until a team has won a game on the road.

Well, welcome to the playoffs.

This game took everyone’s expectations and threw them right out the window. Joel Embiid struggled mightily to score, getting the majority of his points on fouls that were quite soft by playoff standards. He wasn’t the only one on the Sixers that had a rough time as starters not named Jimmy Butler shot 3-for-22 from the field in the first half. On the flip side, D’Angelo Russell, who has carried this team on his back for long stretches this season, was neutralized early on, shooting 2-for-11. Despite this, the Nets carried a lead through the opening two quarters.

Not everything was a surprise, though. Brooklyn’s guards did just as well as they were expected to, with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie both posting huge numbers. Butler carried an offensive load large enough for his whole squad with 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting. In classic third quarter fashion, the Brooklyn lead that was once as large as 16 dwindled down to single digits as the second half got underway.

Even still, the Nets rolled with the punches and never gave up the lead. Every time things would start to go south, somebody would step up and make a crucial stop or hit a difficult shot. In the second half, Russell, much like Stella, finally got his groove back and then it was all over but the window dressing.

The staggered firing squad of Russell, Dinwiddie, and LeVert were lethal and, in this game, the Sixers couldn’t find an answer. Of course, Brooklyn is still only 25 percent of the way towards securing a series win. Philadelphia, however, is at zero percent and that is more than enough for a team that wasn’t even supposed to be here.

Caris LeVert

A+

The stats: 23 PTS, 8-18 FG, 3-3 3PT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TO

Caris LeVert didn’t come to play, he came to annihilate.

Full disclosure: Caris LeVert is the last guard that I expected to go supernova in this series. Russell or Dinwiddie, maybe. But LeVert? The man who has been the king of inconsistency since coming back from his injury? Yeah, he was an absolute monster tonight. Whether or not he can keep up this level of play will be paramount in Brooklyn’s ability to potentially upset the Sixers.

Ed Davis

A-

The stats: 12 PTS, 5-7 FG, 16 REB, 2 AST, 0 TO

So… the Nets might be an elite defensive team — at least when Ed Davis is protecting the paint.

Brooklyn boasts one of the best defensive ratings of the 16 playoff teams since the All-Star break — can you believe it? Much of that can be attributed to Davis’ hustle off the bench and he played big minutes today with Jarrett Allen in early foul trouble. The impact of the gritty and tough Davis is directly related to the Nets’ victory this afternoon and he is vital in stopping Embiid from taking over this series.

D'Angelo Russell

B

The stats: 26 PTS, 10-25 FG, 2-6 3PT, 3 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO

D’Angelo Russell started slow but adjusted quickly to the increased pressure of the postseason.

When your shots aren’t falling, you should always default to driving to the rim. Either the defense will collapse on you, creating open looks for your teammates, or they will play man-on-man and likely end up fouling. Either way, it creates good things for your offense. Instead of forcing shots when his usual repertoire wasn’t falling, Russell changed things up perfectly.

And building that skill even further will be the next step in Russell’s overall growth as a player — but in Game 1, we saw that growth right in front of our eyes.

Spencer Dinwiddie

B+

The stats: 18 PTS, 6-14 FG, 2-5 3PT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO

Spencer Dinwiddie is the last piece — but not least — of Brooklyn’s three-headed hydra.

Dinwiddie is a killer and there was no doubt that he would come out firing in Game 1, even in his role off the bench. The best part is that he makes it look so easy, like in the clip above. The electric guard is fantastic at lulling the defender to sleep with only a couple dribbles before casually strolling by him to the basket.

If the Nets want to keep their bench edge in the series, expect even more Dinwiddie in the coming games.

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