The Brooklyn Nets got here out with power and execution, stealing Recreation 1 on the street from the Philadelphia 76ers.
This was not the way in which the 76ers had been hoping to kick off their postseason expertise. Ben Simmons was bottled up by the Nets protection, Joel Embiid struggled from the sphere, J.J. Redick fouled out, the supporting forged couldn’t purchase a 3-pointer and Embiid and Amir Johnson had been caught by tv cameras checking a cellphone on the bench throughout the sport.
The Nets, in the meantime, flashed their depth with six totally different gamers scoring in double figures and All-Star D’Angelo Russell main the upset with 26 factors, four rebounds and three assists. This was all the time going to be one of the fascinating first-round collection however issues simply acquired an entire lot extra fascinating.
What’s Philadelphia going to do about Ben Simmons? Earlier than the collection began, Jared Dudley informed the media that Brooklyn would give Simmons tons of area and dare him to beat them. In Recreation 1, the “ignore Simmons exterior the paint” sport plan labored like a allure. Brooklyn sagged off of him practically each time he touched the ball, chopping off driving and passing lanes and placing an additional defender within the orbit of Joel Embiid within the put up. Simmons didn’t appear to have any thought learn how to modify and completed with 9 factors, Three assists and three turnovers. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an analogous participant to Simmons, a questionable shooter who would favor to drive at any alternative. However he’s discovered learn how to chew up area and end over and thru the protection, one thing that Simmons doesn’t do persistently but. There’s no purpose for Brooklyn to alter their sport plan now, so Brett Brown and Simmons must determine a counter earlier than Recreation 2, as a result of he’s not going to all of the sudden begin raining jumpers.
For this reason Jimmy Butler is right here. After some preliminary friction between Butler and Joel Embiid about touches and elegance of play, Butler has principally taken receded into the background of the 76ers. His play has been stable and he’s risen to the event when known as upon, nevertheless it additionally appeared clear that he was snug deferring to Simmons, Embiid and Tobias Harris.
Nicely, there was no deference available in Recreation 1. The 76ers offense was struggling to hit photographs and so Butler took it upon himself to deal with the scoring load. A halftime buzzer-beater gave Butler 23 factors within the first half and he completed with 36 factors on 11-of-22 capturing from the sphere and 15 free throw makes an attempt. This was the third-most photographs he’s tried since becoming a member of Philadelphia. The 76ers are at their finest when the offense is extra balanced however there will probably be nights (like tonight) the place that simply can’t work and having somebody like Butler who can get his personal shot is the distinction between getting blown out and staying within the sport.
The Nets are run deep. The emergence of D’Angelo Russell has been the background story for the Nets however Recreation 1 was the right instance of simply how deep they’re. Russell struggled mightily within the first half however Ed Davis, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert picked him up with relentless drives, stable ending and candy capturing. That trio completed with 53 factors, 23 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench, on 19-of-39 capturing from the sphere and 5-of-Eight on 3-pointers. For reference, all the 76ers bench scored 26 factors. The 76ers might have extra expertise on their roster nevertheless it’s positively concentrated of their beginning lineup and if Brooklyn can proceed to leverage their bench benefit this might be a really fascinating collection.