76ers

Sixers vs. Nets, Game 2: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Nets, Game 2: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Philadelphia 76ers will look to rebound in Game 2, after giving up their home-court advantage in Game 1.

Here are the essentials:

When: 8 p.m., Sixers Pregame Live starts at 7 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Here are three storylines to watch:

Attacking mismatches

As I mentioned in our Game 1 storylines, the Brooklyn Nets were going to look to take advantage of JJ Redick defensively, and that they did, but it was far from just Redick. When the Nets’ second unit of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert checked into the game, the Sixers couldn’t match up, whether that was Dinwiddie blowing by Mike Scott because he pressed him too far out, LeVert beating Jonathon Simmons backdoor or a variety of other missed man-to-man coverages.

The Nets' gameplan wasn’t a secret. As D’Angelo Russell said after the victory, “In the second unit there are a lot of matchups that we like to exploit… Kenny (Atkinson) is a genius when it comes to that.” Some mismatches you are forced to live with, but the Sixers will have to figure out some of their glaring defensive deficiencies in Game 2.

Adjusting offensively

Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Redick combined for four points in the first half (and 18 overall). It’s a combination of the Sixers needing to do a better job of creating opportunities for Harris and Redick, as it is them knocking down shots. Atkinson said a big part of their game plan was shutting down Harris and Redick, and the Nets simply took away where Redick has been most effective — coming off screens on the perimeter — which means the Sixers will have to find different ways to get him (and Harris) open.

Embiid inside

The biggest advantage that the Sixers have over the Nets is Joel Embiid inside. Embiid admitted after Game 1 that he felt out of shape and Brett Brown said that was a big reason for why Embiid was running perimeter-to-perimeter, rather than rim-to-rim. Still, Embiid was able to get to the line 18 times and finish with 22 points and 15 rebounds in just 24 minutes of play (and limit Jarrett Allen to under 10 minutes after getting him in early foul trouble). I’d still like to see Embiid play more bully ball in Game 2, but that type of play might be dependent on how Embiid’s knee feels. 

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Sixers vs. Nets, Game 5: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Nets, Game 5: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers will look to close out the series at home in Game 5 against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening. A Nets starting lineup change in Game 4 (adding Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley) gave Brooklyn a lift. Joel Embiid is officially listed as probable (left knee soreness), while Ed Davis is questionable (right ankle sprain). 

When: 8 p.m., Sixers Pregame Live starts at 7 p.m., Sixers Talk starts at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center  
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app. 

Here are three storylines to watch:

Desperation

Despite dropping the past three, the Brooklyn Nets know that they can beat this Sixers squad, as they still have their confidence from Game 1 at Wells Fargo Center to fall back on. On top of that, the Nets have absolutely nothing to lose in this game. The hungrier and more desperate team should be viewed as a dangerous one.

Keep your eye on JoJo

We said going into Game 4 to expect physicality, and the game lived up to its hype, seeing both Dudley and Jimmy Butler get ejected, while Embiid received a Flagrant-1. The subplot to the physicality is that Embiid already has two flagrant points, and if Embiid receives two more (which could come in the form of two Flagrant-1s or one Flagrant-2), Embiid will be facing a one-game suspension. Going back to the Nets having nothing to lose, expect them to be very aware of this.

If Nets get hot from three…

We all know that a lot of what the Nets do offensively is predicated on the three-point line, and the Nets have really struggled from deep. Joe Harris, who led the NBA in 3-point percentage this season (47.4 percent) has not hit a three in three games (0-12). Credit to the Sixers’ defense (and especially JJ Redick), but imagine if he got one or two of his threes to knock down in Game 4…we might not be talking about the Sixers closing it out in Game 5. 

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Predictions for Game 5 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

Predictions for Game 5 of Sixers vs. Nets playoff series

After a dramatic Game 4 win in Brooklyn that had everything you could've wanted, the Sixers can finish off the Nets Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick give their predictions for Game 5: 

Hudrick
We’ve gotten the most positive injury update about Joel Embiid this entire series with him being listed as probable for Game 5 with left knee soreness. Though it’s super dangerous to do so, let’s look at this under the assumption Embiid will play.

Before Game 4 in Brooklyn, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson sounded like a man searching for answers. He lauded the Sixers’ starting five and it’s easy to see why. Of the five-man lineups that have played at least 30 minutes together this postseason, the Sixers’ starting unit has the highest offensive, defensive and net rating. Not too shabby for a group still working on its chemistry.

Brooklyn appears to be a desperate team. Their general manger burst into the referees’ locker room after Game 4 and their owner passive aggressively tweeted about officiating. Both were fined. With that said, it looks like the Sixers took the Nets’ best shot already.

The team has denied it, but that Game 1 loss sure seemed like a wake-up call. Jared Dudley poked the bear with Ben Simmons and Embiid is thriving in his villain role. Tobias Harris has also gotten his swagger back, and not a moment too soon. It feels like there’s a loose vibe around the Sixers right now. As a team, they appear to be in a good place.

“We want Toronto” chants will start about midway through the fourth quarter, and in front of a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd, the Sixers end the series.

Levick 
The Nets, fined a collective $85,000 following their loss Saturday ($25,000 for general manager Sean Marks, $25,000 for Jared Dudley and $35,000 for owner Joe Tsai), have nothing to lose — besides their season. They’ll reach another level of desperation in Game 5 and keep trying to irritate the Sixers as much as possible. Dudley is going to be booed like he’s never been booed before.

I don’t think any of it will matter much. The Sixers are clearly the more talented team in this series, and Joel Embiid the most dominant player. 

One reason the Nets have for optimism is their subpar three-point shooting over the past couple of games, particularly from Joe Harris. Brooklyn shot a combined 20 for 77 (26 percent) from long range in Games 3 and 4, and Harris — the NBA’s leader in three-point percentage during the regular season — is 0 for his last 12 from three. Though the Sixers’ defense is responsible for some of the Nets’ struggles from three-point territory, Brooklyn has missed plenty of open looks. They're due for an improved shooting performance.

Kenny Atkinson’s decision to place Dudley and LeVert in the starting lineup for Game 4 was effective, but it’s apparent the Nets simply don’t have the personnel to handle Embiid in the paint, Simmons in transition and Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in the pick-and-roll.

I’m sticking with Sixers in five. 

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