The 76ers are back in the 2nd Round after defeating the Nets 96-88 on Saturday Afternoon.
It only took 4 games to really show who won the Harden-Simmons trade as Philly swept Brooklyn seemingly effortlessly. Not having Joel Embiid in the final game of the series did not affect the Sixers as they cruised past them winning by 8.
Philadelphia will take on either the Celtics or the Hawks, depending on who wins that series.
Here are some observations from the sweep:
Maxey Shines Under Pressure
Tyrese Maxey surprised Sixers fans as he helped Philly elevate past the Nets. Maxey averaged an impressive 22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. This compared to his regular season stats is noticeable as he averaged 20 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal.
In Game 1, Tyrese had a somewhat disappointing game, scoring only 13 points. He made up for his lack of scoring in dominance on the boards by him grabbing 6 rebounds. Maxey also had an astounding 3 steals and drilled 3 triples. During postgame, while he did seem happy to have won, Maxey looked frustrated with himself because he knew that he was better than how he played.
Game 2 was a game to remember for Maxey. Not only did he have 33 points, but he also shot 57% from the field and 46% from 3, hitting 6 of them. He led Philly to a dominant 96-84 win with the help of Joel Embiid’s 19 rebounds. Tyrese took advantage of every opportunity that came his way and brought Philly to a 2-0 series lead.
In both Game 3 and Game 4 Maxey started to slow down. In Game 3 he still scored 25 points putting up All-Star-type numbers, but in Game 4 he lost his groove. He scored only 16 points, but he did put up 8 rebounds and 2 steals. Hopefully, Tyrese can keep his momentum and bring it into the next round.
Despite the efforts of the referees, Philly still was able to sweep Brooklyn with ease. The officiating became inconsistent in Game 3. There were multiple Technical fouls administered including 2 ejections.
As a reminder, each player has 4 Flagrant foul points in the Playoffs. For example, if someone were to receive a Flagrant 2 and two Flagrant 1’s in the Playoffs, they would be suspended for 1 game.
Joel Embiid was given a Flagrant 1 foul for kicking Nic Claxton in the back of the leg and Claxton received his first Technical foul. Twitter went into a frenzy once this was learned, as this play was eerily similar to the Flagrant 2 foul and Suspension gave to Draymond Green.
Here are these plays side-by-side:
In the 3rd quarter, James Harden received a Flagrant 2 foul after nicking Royce O’Neal in the crotch with his elbow. It seemed like O’Neal flopped, as Harden barely hit him.
Here’s the play:
Even later in the game, Nic Claxton layed up a “dunk” on Joel Embiid and flexed his “arms” on Embiid. He then was given his 2nd Technical foul, meaning he would be ejected from the game. This may have cost the game for Brooklyn, as Claxton was having a great game.
Here is the play:
Luckily there was not much more controversy in officiating in the rest of the series, but it is undeniable that the NBA needs to fix this for future games.
The Sixers will take on either the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This series will likely take place on May 1st or 2nd. If Boston wins the series against the Hawks, the Celtics will have home court advantage against the Sixers. The 76ers will have home court advantage if the Hawks advance. Philly fans should root for the Hawks to win the series, as undoubtedly they are not as tough as the Celtics.