Caris LeVert

Off-court jabs continue as Sixers expect plenty of physicality from Nets in Game 3

Off-court jabs continue as Sixers expect plenty of physicality from Nets in Game 3

NEW YORK — Kenny Atkinson and the Nets will, the Sixers know, make adjustments Thursday night following their 145-123 loss in Game 2.

But the tactical nuances of when and how the Nets use their zone defense or whether Brooklyn will do anything to counter Boban Marjanovic’s jump shooting are not what’s most compelling heading into Game 3.

While it would be a stretch to say the two teams already despise each other, it’s fair to say neither the Sixers nor the Nets have the highest level of respect for their opponents.

At shootaround Thursday morning, Ben Simmons was asked about Jared Dudley’s comment that Simmons is an “average” player in the half court.

“That’s coming from Jared Dudley,” Simmons said. “Come on.” 

With Dudley sidelined by right calf tightness in Game 2, Simmons was brilliant, posting his second career playoff triple-double. Simmons had just nine points in Game 1 and shot 1 for 5 when defended by Dudley. The 12-year NBA veteran is listed as probable for Game 3. 

Dudley and Caris LeVert also weren’t happy with another Sixers’ star after Game 2. LeVert told reporters he thought Embiid laughing in the middle of his apology for elbowing Jarrett Allen — an infraction for which Embiid received a Flagrant 1 foul — was “kind of disrespectful.” Dudley didn’t think Embiid should’ve been laughing when “someone could’ve gotten really hurt.”

Whether it’s because of all the off-court rhetoric or simply because of the higher stakes, the Sixers acknowledged they expect more physicality Thursday. Jimmy Butler, for one, wouldn’t mind it.

“I hope so,” he said. “I’m all for the physicality. I know a lot of guys on our team are. We’re expecting physical. We know we’re going to get their best punch. We’re coming back, playing at their crib, first time in a long time — they want this one just as bad as we want it.”

Simmons thinks the Nets “have to be” more physical. He just doesn’t think Brooklyn has the ability to effectively uproot the Sixers from their game.

“Physically, I don’t think they can,” Simmons said. “Just because we have so many guys who are able to be physical down low and in the paint. But time will tell.”

Brett Brown said before Game 1 he was expecting the series to be a “fist fight.” We might start approaching that territory soon. 

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Sixers at Nets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

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Sixers at Nets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Sixers (6-4) are looking for their first road win of the season in Brooklyn when they take on the Nets (3-6) Sunday.

The Nets will have their hands full with Joel Embiid while the Sixers will have to look out for Brooklyn’s barrage of three-point attempts and an emerging young player.

Here’s a dive into the matchup.

• Joel Embiid has been a monster. Since recording a season-low 10 points against the Hawks, Embiid is averaging 37 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. With that said, it’s mind boggling that more teams haven’t adopted the strategy former Sixers assistant and current Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce used in doubling Embiid on every touch (see story).

For the season, Embiid is averaging 29.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 blocks. Only Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal have recorded those averages. That’s pretty elite company.

• Brett Brown gives his players the green light to shoot threes. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is waving a checkered flag for his players to fire treys. 

Through nine games, Brooklyn is attempting the fifth-most threes in the NBA. But unlike last season when they finished 20th, the Nets are connecting on 38.8 percent of their threes, also good for fifth in the league.

They’re led by Joe Harris (59 percent on 5.1 attempts), D'Angelo Russell (40 on 6.1) and Spencer Dinwiddie (40 on 5.8).

• The Sixers' rotation will be interesting to monitor over the coming weeks. 

Wilson Chandler is back on a limited basis but rookie Landry Shamet is earning meaningful minutes by making shots and displaying excellent basketball IQ (see story). Dario Saric is struggling while Mike Muscala is giving the Sixers solid run off the bench and has closed out the last two games at the four.

The national media harped on the losses of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Once Chandler gets healthy and up to speed, it should be apparent that the Sixers were wise to let Belinelli and Ilyasova sign multi-year deals elsewhere.

• Considering Brooklyn hasn’t had their own first-round pick in what feels like a decade, they’ve done a decent job finding a few players that look like keepers. 

Caris LeVert may be the best example of that. Originally drafted in the first round by Indiana, the Pacers traded him to the Nets for former Sixer Thaddeus Young. LeVert has been excellent this season, looking like a real candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. He's a streaky shooter but he's athletic and crafty around the rim.

On the young season, he leads Brooklyn with 20 points per game while also posting 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. 

Below are the essentials for Saturday’s matchup:

When: 6 p.m. EST 
Where: Barclays Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia (Pregame Live starts at 5:30 EST)
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app 

Roster
Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210, No. 0 
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43  
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22 
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225, No. 33 
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21 
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20 
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11 
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5 
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30 
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12 
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18 
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31 
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250, No. 9
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25 
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8

* Two-way player

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