Coming off a down-to-the-wire game 3 victory, the Sixers will have a chance to sweep the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs today at 1:00 pm.
No team in NBA history has ever blown a 3-0 series lead in the playoffs, so the Sixers have certainly put themselves in a great spot.
Over the first 3 games of this series, it has been clear that the Nets are not going to let the Sixers stars beat them. Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and others have certainly answered the bell, as they have been the players the Sixers have counted on for scoring. Those players will have to step up again as it was announced yesterday that the Sixers would be without their MVP, Joel Embiid after he suffered a right-knee sprain in the game 3 win.
With a chance to close out the series today, here are some keys to victory:
Of course, the main storyline entering game 4 is that Joel Embiid is unavailable to play after suffering a right-knee sprain in game 3. While this injury could typically take weeks to recover from, the Sixers believe that they could have Embiid back early next week if the series continued.
In my eyes, this makes game 4 a must-win because it would give Joel Embiid and the Sixers at least a week off before the start of the second round. If the Sixers are unable to close out the series today, it may force Philadelphia to play Embiid in game 5, potentially putting himself at risk of further injury.
In order to come up with a series sweep, the Sixers will have to continue to get major contributions from players like Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and Paul Reed. It is impossible to replace a player like Embiid, but the Sixers do have plenty of other options to be able to handle this situation.
James Harden will have to not only continue to do a great job at facilitating the offense, but look to score more as well. This is big opportunity for Harden to show that he can still be a player who is a major threat to score the basketball with some of the best in the NBA. Of course, it is also a chance for Harden to come up clutch in a big playoff moment, something that he has struggled with throughout his career.
Desperation in Brooklyn
Down 3-0, do not expect the Nets to just roll over. This is a team that fought hard over the final two months of the regular season to avoid the play-in after they traded superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
They will still be playing hard to win today, and if they do, it could swing a little momentum their way. Hey, just look at what happened last season when the Sixers had a 3-0 first-round series. They ended up dropping game 4 in Toronto, put up a clunker in game 5, and needed a game 6 win on the road to pull out a series win (it is worth noting that Joel Embiid suffered an orbital fracture in that game 6 as well).
The Sixers cannot think that this series is already over, because although history may say that it is, extending this series could be costly for a team whose goal is to still be playing in June.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Brooklyn Nets
Time: 1:00 pm ET
Broadcast: TNT, and NBCSP
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Joel Embiid (OUT) – Right Knee Sprian
Danuel House Jr. (GTD) – Non-Covid Illness
Ben Simmons (OUT) – Back