It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work.
The Sixers squeezed past the Brooklyn Nets, 96-84, Monday night to take a 2-0 series lead.
Tyrese Maxey had a game-high 33 points, getting there on 13-of-23 shooting, including going 6-of-13 from behind the arc.
Joel Embiid took just 11 shots, but still impacted the game with 20 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks.
Tobias Harris had a double-double with 20 points and 11 boards.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Like the start of Game 1, Philly’s offense was a bit clunky from the start, and its 0-for-5 start from outside made it equally as difficult.
- Brooklyn’s offensive start on the other hand, was eerily similar to the Sixers’ on Saturday. The Nets shot just 39 percent from the floor, but were 50 percent on three-point attempts.
- After a relatively quiet Game 1, Maxey got the offense going tonight in the first. A couple of tough finishes got him into a rhythm, and he relocated for Embiid to find him in the corner on the next possession. This started a 10-0 Sixers run, as Maxey had nine points in the opening quarter.
- The opening quarter was the most active Embiid has been on the glass all season. His eight boards already eclipsed his total from Game 1. Among his rebounds, three assists and block on Cam Johnson at the rim, he had a big impact on the game in every aspect except for scoring. The game was knotted up at 25 after the opening quarter.
- The Sixers are going to need Jalen McDaniels’ skillset in this series to come and they’re going to need him to be smarter on the defensive end of the floor. He was forced to sit three minutes into the second after picking up his third foul. Of the three, two were dead-ball fouls and the third came on a charge.
- The Sixers turned the ball over nine times on Saturday, and they surpassed that total a little over halfway through the second quarter with 11 in the first half tonight. James Harden had an especially rough first half, accounting for five of those turnovers to match his five assists. He only had two points in the half and shot 1 of 7.
- What a half Cam Johnson had. He easily was leading all scorers at the half with 22 points, and he did it on an efficient 9-of-13 shooting. He saved his best play of the half for last, when he threw this down on Embiid.
CAM JOHNSON POSTER— NBA (@NBA) April 18, 2023
HE'S TAKING OVER ON TNT (22 PTS) pic.twitter.com/iBK2YY2Wzt
- Not many people have gotten Embiid like that. With how they played, the Sixers were lucky to only be down five at halftime.
- After two pretty terrible possessions to start the half, Doc Rivers called a timeout just 61 seconds into the third. This turned out to be the right button to press, as the Sixers went on a 20-5 run afterward to take a lead.
TOBIAS STEAL + SLAM pic.twitter.com/DxkV5thdNd— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 18, 2023
- For much of the third quarter, the Sixers sat in a zone defensively, and the Nets weren’t able to make them pay. Brooklyn shot 33 percent from the field in the third and was just 2 of 10 from downtown. Those two makes are likely why Sixers switched back to zone, but still, they allowed only 14 points in the third.
- Man or zone, Philly’s rim protection in the third was stellar. Embiid sat just under the free throw line as a roamer. This time it was Mikal Bridges he blocked at the rim. Paul Reed blocked Spencer Dinwiddie going to basket as the quarter expired.
- Reed is consistently the best part of the second unit lineups. It is getting to a point where the fans are chanting “Bball” when he does literally anything. On Monday, Reed finished with six points, three rebounds, which all came on the offensive end, and a block.
- Tobias Harris deserves some credit for picking up the slack on the offensive end for the second straight game. When Harris is off, he can really disrupt the flow of the offense. When the offense has no flow, however, he has done a good job of creating baskets for himself.
- It’s hard to quantify how much of an impact Embiid has on the defensive end. Here, he gets shook by Seth Curry after running him off the three-point line, and is still able to recover to block Johnson’s shot. Another incredible defensive performance from the big fella.
HAHAHA JOEL EMBIID WHAT A BLOCK pic.twitter.com/fAw0M9T4RM— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 18, 2023
- These teams will have a couple of days off as the series heads to Brooklyn. Game 3 will take place Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.