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Sixers-Nets Game 5 Postgame Quotes

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NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Brown, PHI

On defensive performance in the first quarter to jump out to 14-0 lead…

I think that, as I said in the pregame, I felt comfortable that we have found a defensive game plan. When you lose Game 1, that can be challenged—that notion—is it right or is it wrong? We felt like we were on the right path, even not playing well and losing. We felt it was the correct defensive game plan to see through. To beat this team four times in a row is really hard, and I think that we started the game well. I really was as happy with the first two minutes of the third [quarter] as I was with the start of the game. I thought we came out and tried to continue sort of what we tried to achieve defensively.

On balancing lofty goals against the accomplishment of reaching the second round for the second-straight year…

I’m not sure how to answer that. Normally I can answer stuff quickly. I can answer it like how I see the world. This is how I see it. We have a team that is slowly coming together. They don’t have the luxury of lots of games and lots of context to share upon. And so you have Jo [Embiid], you don’t...you have Jimmy Butler, you don’t. These guys have been great on trying to form a team. And so when you say lofty goals versus reaching the second round, we have more to do. This is good. Beating Brooklyn and advancing to the second round. This is good. And it can’t be discredited like, ‘Oh, you should’. On paper, we should, but you’re still playing against a team that was a team. They had a hell of a year. I give Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks credit. And so, I will answer it like that and conclude with we still have more to do, a lot more to do.

On how the Nets made 76ers come together as a team, especially after Game 1…

I think that immediately it forced us into recognizing that we are vulnerable if we don’t play defense like we’ve got to play defense. And I think if I were to go to one specific thing, the first game was a reminder that we better guard the way that we said we wanted to defend them or it’s going to be a long series and one that we could lose. When you say it brought us together, I think that is true, but what it really brought us together on, specifically, is our defense. I thought we came together defensively.

On what he’s looking forward to against Toronto with this new group…

I mean we all understand what the math says with our success in Toronto, and it’s not flattering. But it’s also not directed to the team that we have. And so you can credit it or you can discredit it. I’m discrediting it. I think that we have a new group, we have a new opportunity. I’ve got tremendous respect for the Toronto team. [Their] coaching staff has done great. But we’re excited to go up there and try to fix some of what the math says—our lack of success that we have had—and it’s going to be an incredibly tough series. I think that Toronto is as good as there is in the NBA. And we will be tested immediately when we get up into Toronto.

Joel Embiid, PHI

On Game 1 versus Game 5…

I look at it as a wake up call. Something we needed to kind of go back and figure it out. After that game we weren’t worried about, like, “Oh, we just lost the first game,” we knew what we had to do and we knew that we didn’t do that in Game 1 and we ended up getting four straight.

On his physical health…

I didn’t finish up the regular season, so just getting my rhythm and getting healthier and just doing the right things I think is working out well. Still got a long way to go, but as long as I’m alive, I’ve got to keep pushing. I thought tonight my performance was okay, but that was a great win, everybody showed up.

On Kenny Atkinson saying the 76ers could contend for a championship…

That’s what we think. We think we can win it all. Obviously, it is going to take a lot. You’ve got some great teams in the league. We’re about to play one of them and then the next one will not be easy, either Milwaukee or Boston, and then you’ve got the West, which is pretty tough. We just have to take one game at a time, but we understand that we’ve got all the talent that we need, especially to win it all.

Ben Simmons, PHI

On what it was like for the team to close out the series tonight…

Amazing. I think everybody was kind of on their toes before the game, just making sure we were all locked in because we didn’t want to have an upset and go back to Brooklyn. I think everybody did a good job of locking in and doing their job.

On his playoff experience from last year to this year…

I think so far, over the two seasons I’ve played, I’ve grown a lot, in terms of maturity, just playing the game and learning that point guard position that I was kind of thrown in to. But, I’ve been enjoying it. I think so far, it’s been ups and downs, but I’m getting there.

On if this series win is more satisfying because of the way the team came together rather quickly…

I think it’s just the playoffs and I think that brings the best out of good players. I think everybody’s kind of on that same wave mindset to where we’re trying to win a championship. Trying to get on the same page with that.

On if this series was a good challenge for the team defensively…

Yeah, I think intensity-wise and physicality I think our team was physical the whole time, besides the first game. We did a good job of that, so I think we need to take that over to Toronto.

Kenny Atkinson, BKN

On what adjustment served the 76ers best in the series…

I think their defense on Joe Harris. That really slowed us down. They [were] top-locking him and he’s kind of our engine. I know the Nets and the Sixers—it was a tussle and we had our words, but tremendous respect for Brett [Brown], tremendous respect for the Sixers organization. It’s a hell of a team. They’re going for big things and I think they can compete for a championship, quite honestly. But like I said, tremendous respect for that group over there. At the end of the day, we weren’t good enough.

On the 76ers jumping out in first quarter…

I was just so disappointed in our shot selection to start. Our first six shots were just uncharacteristic. Now, credit their defense—I thought they were locked in, I thought they were swarming us. We really couldn’t get by them. One through five—Joel [Embiid] being back there, being the elite rim protector he is, and then I thought the other four guys—they locked us up. We couldn’t find space—to not only get off a decent shot—they just really forced us into poor, poor shots and I think that started it. And then they got out in transition and it was kind of ‘Goodnight, Irene’ after that.

On what the Nets need to accomplish in the offseason and how far away they are…

I’ve said it all year, I said it towards the end of the year, even when we were fighting for the playoffs, even when we made the playoffs: we have a long way to go. We understand where we are. Yes, we’re pleased with improving and being a better team from last year, and making the playoffs, but we understand the level where the Sixers are—that’s a long ways away. And we understand that. But I think it’s also going to drive us. You know, I think when you come out of a series like this, man you’re a little taken aback. But we understand what’s in front of us. Very proud of our guys. Just a wonderful season. Everybody talks about championships and that’s great, but seasons like these, I don’t know—you guys know how hard that is, in professional sports especially. People picked us [for] 32 wins, 30 wins, and to come up with 42 and the sixth seed in the playoffs, I’m very proud of what we accomplished this year.

D’Angelo Russell, BKN

On what he saw in the first few minutes that led to the 76ers lead…

You guys watched it. They did a great job of capitalizing off of our misses, scoring in transition, doing whatever they wanted before we could even get on the board.

On what the team accomplished this season…

Definitely a lot of positive vibes to look forward to. I thought we had a very successful year. And guys came into their own throughout the year, so that’s definitely a positive going into the summer, coming into the next year. Individually, one of the guys that came into their own and thrived, but it was a collective group that thrived I would say.

On the 76ers’ defense in this series compared to the regular season…

I give credit to their defensive schemes and their preparation. I can also say we didn’t make the shots we normally make as well. That gives the confidence to know that we gave ourselves a chance, and we didn’t shoot well. So, it is what it is. Something we’ve just got to sleep with. Be prepared going into the next year and try not to do that.

Caris LeVert, BKN

On what the 76ers taught them this series…

You’ve just got to be locked in for a full 48 minutes every game. Can’t take any plays off. You’ve got to do all the little things necessary to win a game.

On what they took from this series and what they need to accomplish…

We knew going into this year the potential that we had. We kind of quietly expected to make the playoffs, honestly. We had talks within the team and we kind of knew our goals, and this was definitely one of our goals. Going forward, we aren’t done yet, we feel like we’ve got a long way to go, a lot to get better at. We can’t wait to attack the summer and attack those things.

On coming back from his injury…

It was tough. Obviously, that was a tough time. But looking back, I feel like I grew a lot as a player, as a person. That time definitely made me a lot stronger and prepared me for moments like this, the playoffs. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, my coaches, supporting me every step of the way.