That’s a well-rounded victory.
The Sixers handled the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1, 121-101, to kick off the 2023 NBA playoffs. Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 26 points, five boards, and three blocks.
James Harden led a record-setting three-point night, going 7 of 13 from deep on his way to 23 points and 13 assists. Tobias Harris was a perfect 3 of 3 from downtown as he finished with 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field.
P.J. Tucker was a menace on the glass with five offensive rebounds, and Paul Reed put on a show with 11 points and two steals.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- The Sixers’ biggest problem on the offensive end to start this one was missing bunnies. The Nets’ hyper-aggressive double teams on Embiid allowed Philly to get some good ball movement. They weren’t taking bad shots, but they started the game shooting 3 of 12 in the paint.
- After watching this team over the past two seasons, it was jarring to see them dominate the offensive glass in the opening quarter. P.J. Tucker’s impact was immediate, snatching up three of the Sixers’ seven offensive boards in the first. Keeping possessions alive is what kept them in front despite being outshot in the first. The Sixers took nine more field goals than the Nets.
...and with that, all of our starters are on the board. pic.twitter.com/nZoKAab039— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 15, 2023
- The Nets got whatever they wanted early too, making seven of their first 10 shots from the field. Mikal Bridges led all scorers after one with 11 points, but the Sixers still held a five-point lead.
- The Sixers begun the playoffs with a nine-man rotation, as Danuel House Jr. only plays eight seconds. Despite the Nets being on the smaller side of teams, Doc Rivers still went with Paul Reed to back up Embiid. Reed had a really solid first shift, putting up four points and a steal in a little over five minutes of action.
scores our 8th three of the game. pic.twitter.com/qAT1DtD8Vl— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 15, 2023
- An even better second quarter from Bridges, who was punishing the Sixers’ drop coverage. He scored 12 in the quarter on a heavy diet of jumpers out of the pick-and-roll. The only resistance the Sixers got was when Embiid was switched on to him on the perimeter.
- James Harden’s first half shooting line was a good representation of the Sixers’ entire offense. He was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc but just 1 of 8 on two pointers. He was consistently getting blocked at the rim but shook Spencer Dinwiddie on a step-back three. I’ll leave the island jokes to you, dear reader. Harden was the Sixers’ leading scorer with 17 as they extended their lead to nine before halftime.
That James Harden stepback— NBA (@NBA) April 15, 2023
Mid 2Q of Game 1 in Philly on ESPN pic.twitter.com/fDrPzoqcyn
- It only took two and a half quarters of basketball to get our first Embiid injury scare of the playoffs. He took a hard spill when Dorian Finney-Smith fouled him trying to prevent a massive dunk. Embiid stayed in the game and the play wasn’t even ruled a flagrant, but anytime Embiid gets hit hard in the face it’s going to generate some anxiety.
- Otherwise, it was a fairly typical Embiid third quarter. He had just as many points in the frame as he did the whole first half, with 10 points and a block in the third. His passes weren’t as sharp as they were in the first half, though, as he threw a couple ugly ones into the stands.
- It's really incredible the Sixers were able to remain in front the entire game, despite the Nets hardly being able to miss the entire game. They shot 59 percent from the field through three quarters and were still down 12 entering the final frame.
- As Georges Niang knocked down a three to start the fourth, it set a franchise record for most three-pointers made in a playoff game with 19.
- You don’t get the nickname “Bball Paul” for nothing.
BBALL PAUL— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 15, 2023
WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/6zLd2NOOiZ
Paul Reed with the NASTY reverse flush— NBA (@NBA) April 15, 2023
76ers rolling in the 4Q on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/Q9alAinzed
- The minutes that Embiid sat went so well that I was genuinely wondering if he would even have to come back in the fourth, but three straight three-pointers from Brooklyn cut the 20-point lead back to single digits momentarily. The starters pushed the lead back to 16, and Jacque Vaughn waved the white flag with a little over four minutes left, pulling all his starters.
- Game 2 of this series will take place Monday night at 7:30 p.m. EST at the Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers can take a 2-0 series lead.