The Sixers have taken a 2-0 series lead after beating the Nets 96-84.
After a rough first half, the Sixers rode a hot second half to victory. With the series now heading to Brooklyn, it should be over very soon.
Joel Embiid’s All Around Dominance
While this was not Embiid’s best-scoring game, this game showed why he is the most complete player in the NBA. Embiid finished with 20 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks. At every touch tonight Embiid was immediately bombarded with two or three extra defenders. Like in game 1, Embiid did not force much and was able to find the open man. The gravity that Embiid has on the floor is like no other player in the league. There were times tonight when Maxey or Tucker had wide-open 3 points shots all because the entire defense was facing Embiid as soon as he touched the ball. Unless the Nets decide to change their defensive game plan this will not be the best scoring series from Embiid, but his impact on the offensive end of the floor has been felt.
While Embiid has been dominant on the offensive end, he has been just as dominant on the defensive end. He finished game 2 with 3 blocks, but it felt like he had 10. His ability to read a drive, leave his spot, and finish the contest at the rim is a rare ability that very few players possess. Even if he does not block the shot, there were many times tonight where his contest caused a layup to miss. If Embiid stays as locked in on both ends of the floor as he is right now, we are in for a fun postseason run.
Maxey & Tobias Step Up
With the Nets’ defense being so locked in on Embiid, two of the players who will be getting the open looks are Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey. In tonight’s win, Maxey finished with 33 points including 6 threes. With the Nets doubling Embiid at the touch, it is going to leave one player open, and Maxey did a great job at taking advantage. He has turned himself into one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, and if the Nets keep using his man to double, he is going to keep making them pay. His 6 threes were a playoff career high.
In my playoff preview, I talked about how a key player for this postseason run is Tobias Harris. There are going to be games where he needs to take over the 3rd scoring option, and I wondered if he could handle it. Tonight called for him to be that option, and he handled it perfectly. Harris finished tonight’s game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Tobias deserves a ton of credit for his role in tonight’s win. One thing Harris has said that he has been working on was his catch and shoot three. That work has paid off so far this series as he is 4-6 from deep. Tobias was also great on the boards tonight. The Sixers have gotten a lot of second-chance points so far this series, and Tobias has been a big part of that.
While there were a ton of positives from tonight’s win, one negative was the play of James Harden. Harden finished tonight’s game with 8 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Harden was 3-13 from the field including 2-8 from three. While Harden made 7 threes in game 1, he was only 1-8 from two. He struggled to lift around the basket and was having his shot blocked a lot. Harden was battling an Achilles injury late in the season, and we have to just hope it is still not bothering him. Obviously we should not panic after just one game, but if Harden has that poor of a game against the Celtics or Bucks, the Sixers will most likely not win that game. Luckily for the Sixers, they are much better than the Nets even with Harden struggling, but a few good games from him to finish off the series could instill more confidence in the fanbase heading into a later series.
The Sixers now head to Brooklyn on Thursday night 4/20 at 7:30 pm EST.