PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers used a historic capturing efficiency to energy previous the Brooklyn Nets within the first sport of the best-of-seven first-round collection between the 2 groups on Saturday afternoon.
Very early on within the contest, it grew to become clear that MVP favourite Joel Embiid was going to attract numerous consideration — and personnel — from Brooklyn. With the Nets sending two or three defenders at Embiid nearly each time he touched the ball, the remainder of the Sixers have been afforded ample open alternatives from the perimeter, they usually took full benefit.
Starting with the primary quarter, the Sixers let it fly from lengthy vary early and infrequently. They obtained up 12 triples over the primary 12 minutes, and transformed half of them, with six completely different gamers every making one. That scorching begin carried over to the second quarter the place the Sixers knocked down seven of 9 makes an attempt from past the arc, led by James Harden, who had 4 of these.
When all was stated and performed, the Sixers had related on a franchise playoff excessive 21 threes (out of 48 makes an attempt), and their manufacturing from lengthy vary was a significant key of their series-opening 121-101 win over Brooklyn. In all, eight completely different Sixers made no less than one triple, led by Harden, who had seven. Only Allen Iverson (8) has made extra in a playoff sport in franchise historical past. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris additionally every had three, and P.J. Tucker added a pair.
The Nets, who made 13 threes of their over the course of the competition, have been outscored by 24 factors from past the arc. That’s a troublesome differential to beat, particularly in the event you’re additionally going to lose the rebound and turnover battle, as Brooklyn did.
Philadelphia’s earlier franchise excessive for threes in a playoff sport was 18, a mark the workforce hit twice throughout the 2018 postseason. Of Philadelphia’s 21 made pictures from distance on Saturday, a lot of them have been uncontested, and that was a direct results of the Sixers capitalizing on Brooklyn’s scheme of sending a number of our bodies at Embiid each time down the ground.
“It was one thing they have been giving us,” Harden stated of Philly’s output from deep in Game 1. “They doubled Joel [Embiid] the entire sport, principally. They tried their greatest to not let him get going. He nonetheless had 20-something [points], however I believe he did a very good job of simply making the simple passes and we knocked pictures down.”
Embiid has majorly improved on the subject of dealing with strain and further defenders, and that was evident on Saturday. Earlier in his profession, Brooklyn’s constant strain may need tripped up Embiid and compelled him to play outdoors of himself, however that did not. Instead, Embiid embraced the strain, displayed persistence and made the proper play again and again. He was solely credited with three direct assists, however a lot of Philly’s open appears to be like originated with Embiid drawing the protection and shifting the ball.
“Give [Joel] credit score. I believed, particularly early on, he was actually affected person,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers stated after the sport. “When you begin making everyone else higher, and we now have James making everyone else higher, it makes us a reasonably good workforce.”
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So, that is the dilemma that the Nets discover themselves in. If they hold making use of a lot strain on Embiid shifting ahead within the collection, the Sixers’ shooters are going to proceed to have a area day. They may not shoot 48% from deep each sport, however merely surrendering open alternatives to a workforce clearly able to changing at a excessive clip is not a sound technique. But, the choice is — letting Embiid go to work in opposition to single protection — can be a recipe for catastrophe.
In Game 1, Embiid had 26 factors on 7-of-15 capturing from the ground whereas coping with all of the aforementioned strain. Imagine what sort of harm he can do if Brooklyn opts to pay much less consideration to him. There’s no good reply for Brooklyn, and that is why this may very well be a reasonably fast collection.
When it involves the bind that Embiid’s dominance has positioned Brooklyn in, Harden summed it up fairly succinctly:
“I imply, he is the MVP. So it is like, would you slightly him rating 40, or stay with us making pictures? We’ll be prepared both approach.”
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