The Sixers will travel north to Brooklyn tonight for their first road game of the 2019 playoffs as they take on the Nets for Game 3. With the series tied 1-1, the Sixers could take their first series lead with a victory. Conversely, a loss just might incite riots all over Philadelphia.
The Barclay’s Center should be especially hostile this evening. Beef has been building between these two teams, with Jared Dudley and Ben Simmons exchanging trash talk, and the Nets apparently pretty upset over Joel Embiid’s elbow to the face of Jarrett Allen in Game 2. The fact that this is the Nets first home playoff game since 2015 should amp up the rowdiness of the home crowd.
After coming out flat and seemingly uninterested in Game 1, the Sixers stepped up their effort in Game 2, scoring a franchise playoff record 145 points. While the offense reached peak potency in the 3rd quarter of Game 2, so did the Sixers’ defense. Ben Simmons stood out for the intensity with which he hounded D’Angelo Russell — it appeared to be an attempt at changing the fabric of the Nets offense, as Russell’s usage rate dropped by nearly 14 percentage points from Game 1 to Game 2. Will the Sixers chase Russell around with the same ferocity in Game 2?
One thing I’ll be keeping an eye on in this game is the Sixers’ three-point shooting. Of all playoff teams, the Sixers outpace only the San Antonio Spurs in 3PA/game with 24.0. Meanwhile, the Nets are jacking 31.0 threes per game through the first two, connecting at nearly 42%. The Sixers have made up for their lack of distance shooting by getting to the line, as the free-throw Sixers are the antithesis of the three-point Sixers: no team has shot more from the charity stripe than Philly’s 37.0 per game. But one has to wonder how that total is affected with Joel Embiid and friends on the road. JJ Redick is well below his per-game rate of 8 3PA per game in the regular season, taking only 9 total threes in Games 1 & 2. Hopefully for the Sixers sake, he gets back on track.
After a last few weeks of a colorful injury report, Joel Embiid is now the only player appearing on the Sixers’ injury report. He’s a game-time decision. For the Nets, only Allan Crabbe is inactive.
Tonight’s game should have an exciting energy. There seems to be a bit of a rivalry forming between Philly and Brooklyn. Vegas has placed the Sixers as 3.5-point favorites.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn NY
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, TNT
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic