For all their bluster off the court the past couple weeks, the Brooklyn Nets certainly didn’t put up much of a fight in Tuesday’s series-closing Game 5 Sixers victory. Philadelphia jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, as the Nets incredibly didn’t score until the 6:09 mark of the first quarter. That Sixers lead ballooned to 23-2, and as the game progressed, the Nets seemed more interested in complaining about officiating than competing on the court. At halftime, the Sixers led by 29 points, the largest halftime lead in franchise postseason history. The rest was academic, little more than an exercise in wondering how early to unleash the deep bench, as the 122-100 final score was not nearly indicative of the game’s lopsided nature.
A little over an hour before the Sixers game concluded, Toronto also closed out its first-round series with a 115-96 win over Orlando. Get your Jurassic Park and Jurassic World GIFs bookmarked now for what should be a highly competitive second-round series with the Raptors. First, though, we select our final Bell Ringer for the first round of these playoffs:
Joel Embiid: 23 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers (20 minutes)
Embiid tallied more points than minutes played, and was outstanding in all the usual ways. He deterred one Brooklyn shot after another around the rim. He grabbed nearly every single available defensive rebound. He looked bouncy in throwing down some thunderous dunks and side-stepping defenders for buckets around the rim.
But in front of a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd out for Jared Dudley’s blood, you also have to admire how Joel rose to the occasion as an entertainer. Moments after being assessed a technical foul for dunking all over Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and then pointing back at him, Embiid canned a 3 from the top of the key. The shot put the Sixers ahead 41-17, and as Brooklyn called yet another futile timeout, Joel stopped at half court and implored every fan in attendance to rise to his or her feet.
Ben Simmons: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers (27 minutes)
Defensively, Simmons flew all over the court, helping to send former high school teammate D’Angelo Russell home for the summer chewing on a 3-of-16 performance from the field. Conversely, he faced little resistance himself, slamming home one dunk after another as a living embodiment as his snorting gameday emoji. I also enjoyed his work navigating off the ball. More than once, he found an open crease in the pain, received the pass, and finished with a short hook. Ben Simmons: elite in transition, rapidly improving in the half court?
Ben with a better than average throw down pic.twitter.com/wJj73rUMPj— Michael K-B (@therealmikekb) April 24, 2019
Jimmy Butler: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers (27 minutes)
Tuesday night marked the completion of what was arguably the most consistent playoff series of any Sixer, courtesy of Jimmy Butler. Jimmy continued his fine work as the primary ball handler in the half court, fulfilling Brett Brown’s vision of seeing Butler more in control of the offense once the postseason rolled around.
He has also set aside all the regular season doubts about his declining defense, fully flipping the switch this series, capped by his commanding Game 5 effort. Butler ratcheted up the intensity to Minnesota practice levels, getting his hands on everything. The most emblematic play saw Jimmy blocking a 3-point shot when Brooklyn had a 3-on-2 advantage in transition. Having already proven his “great teammate” bona fides in Game 4, Sixers fans have to be supremely confident of this version of Butler heading into the next round.
Tobias Harris: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 turnovers (27 minutes)
While not quite the same volume given the game circumstances, Harris has now shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of his last three games (5-of-8 tonight). Tobi picked his spots, helped space the floor, and continued to attack effectively given more pick-and-roll opportunities. After completing vanishing in Game 1, the team’s jack-of-all-trades offensive weapon has been a master-of-all.
SPLASHIN' AT THE CENTER.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 24, 2019
Tobi sinks in atriple as the Sixers have taken a 27-6 point lead over the Nets in the first. pic.twitter.com/2a6jcSj551
Who is your Game 5 Bell Ringer?
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