Spirits were high in Philadelphia after Joel Embiid was announced as active just prior to gametime. However, early cheers turned to boos as Brooklyn went on a 19-1 run spanning the first and second quarters, during which the Sixers missed 13 straight field goals. For the game, Philadelphia shot just 3-of-25 from behind the arc, while also missing 13 free throws. The Sixers pulled within two points in the third quarter, but eventually fell to the Nets, 111-102.
The proceedings also featured Amir Johnson showing Joel Embiid text messages on his cell phone while on the bench during the game (Embiid later said Amir was checking on his daughter, who is very sick). Then, post-game, Ben Simmons took umbrage with all the booing (come on, Ben, you’ve been here three years, you know how these things work). All-in-all, it was a miserable way to kick off the 2019 playoffs.
Let’s briefly focus on the few things that went right Saturday by choosing a Bell Ringer.
Jimmy Butler: 36 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers
During an in-game sideline interview, Brett Brown called Jimmy Butler the “adult in the room”. He was certainly the man for the Sixers, tallying his fifth career 30-point playoff game and a new postseason scoring high with 36 points. Jimmy almost single-handedly kept the Sixers in the game during the first half, scoring 23 points and grabbing five offensive rebounds. Butler scored 11 of the team’s final 13 points heading into the locker room, including a vintage step-back 3 from the right wing to end the half.
Butler also brought his A-game defensively, making impact plays and taking part in the group that held D’Angelo Russell mostly in check (D-Lo scored 26 points, but shot just 10-of-25 and was a minus-10). Whenever the game looked like it might get too out of hand, Jimmy took it upon himself to create a jumper for himself, or draw a foul (he shot 13-of-15 at the foul line). The best takeaway from Game 1 is that Jimmy Butler definitely has a playoff switch, and it’s flipped on.
JIMMY SAYS NO TO DLO.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 13, 2019
Butler with the rejection on Russell as he goes up for a pair for the Sixers to lock up with the Nets at 15. pic.twitter.com/8vte8eTyBZ
Boban Marjanovic: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover
Another one of the few silver linings from Game 1 was the knowledge that Boban can be an effective backup center in this series. Neither Jarrett Allen or Ed Davis has the floor-stretching ability to attack Boban on the defensive end, and each team found things to exploit when Jared Dudley played a very-small-ball five.
Marjanovic shot 5-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the foul line, knocking down jumpers, and wrecking havoc around the rim. He also had some great feeds from the high post to teammates under the basket, and served as a large totem around which to run hand-off plays. I look forward to watching Boban score over much smaller humans for the next four-plus games.
you cant stop boban you can only hope to contain him pic.twitter.com/wWnq7U3L0T— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) April 13, 2019
Joel Embiid: 22 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, 3 turnovers
Joel certainly had some warts in his overall performance. The 0-of-5 line from 3 was bad; an ailing Embiid didn’t have his legs under him, leading to shots coming up short. He also had a couple sloppy, live-ball turnovers.
His game as a whole, though, provided a positive impact for the Sixers. Embiid drew two fouls on Jarrett Allen in the first minute, and made four trips to the foul line in the first three-and-a-half minutes. He finished the afternoon 12-of-18 from the charity stripe. Joel eventually adjusted to his poor shooting and started driving in for short jumpers or heading all the way to the rim, to great effect.
Defensively, Embiid was excellent around the rim, neutralizing any Brooklyn drives and forcing the Nets to settle for uncomfortable mid-range jumpers. He also found some success later in the game drawing multiple defenders and dishing to Ben Simmons on the opposite block.
Embiid should also get credit for playing through pain. He was obviously not 100 percent out there; every time he fell to the floor, he looked like an 80-year-old man trying to get up. Joel recognized his team needed him on the court; I wish his participation had been enough to tip the scales in the final result.
THATS MORE LIKE IT.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 13, 2019
Sixers come out with a much-needed outburst to start the second half and the Sixers have made this a two-point game with Jo's bucket. pic.twitter.com/8bAbVFMk0X
Who is your Bell Ringer for Game 1?
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