James Harden had a great start to Game 1 drilling seven three-pointers and putting up his 31st playoff double-double. Not only did he have 23 points, but he also had an impressive 13 assists. Philadelphia hit 21 threes in total, which was the most the Sixers have had in a Playoff game in franchise history.
Joel Embiid started slow for Philly as the Nets did their best to keep the ball out of his hands. Since the Sixers don’t have many shooters, this clearly affected them. Philadelphia shot a disappointing 10-28 from the field in the first. However, turnovers became a problem early for Brooklyn and Philly took advantage. The Sixers led 30-25 after the first quarter.
The second quarter began with both teams scoring early. Embiid still was quiet, but James Harden made up for Embiid’s miscues. Tobias Harris also had a strong first half, scoring 12 points. Mikal Bridges kept the Nets competitive, as, in the first half, he put up an impressive 23 points, four rebounds, and one block. Philadelphia held their ground, even though Brooklyn was continuously threatening to pull ahead. Philly had the edge at halftime, leading 67-58.
The third quarter was nothing short of controversial. Midway through the third, Joel Embiid was slapped in the face by a Net trying to guard him. Embiid fell to the floor, grabbing his face, and writhed in pain. The slap looked intentional, but the referees decided that instead of a flagrant foul, it was just a common foul. Later in the quarter, Royce O’Neal and Embiid were tied up, and Embiid pushed O’Neal off of him. The refs decided that this was worthy of a double-technical foul, giving both players a tech. Philly roared in disapproval, but there was nothing that could be done. This lit a fire in the Sixers, and they took their anger and showed it on the court. The Sixers led 93-81 at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Sixers ran away with it. Embiid finally started getting on a roll, finishing with 26 points. Turnovers were a huge issue for the Nets, and the Sixers took advantage. Almost every time the Nets turned the ball over, the Sixers went to the other end of the court and drilled a bucket. If the Nets want to do better in game two, they need to fix their turnover problems. Philly rolled past the Nets winning 121-101 in the opener.
Game two will be on Monday Night in Philadelphia. The game will be televised on TNT, and live updates, reactions, and more will be available on the Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter page.