Break out the brooms.
The Sixers have swept the Brooklyn Nets out of the first round of the NBA playoffs with a 96-88 win Saturday afternoon. Without Joel Embiid, who suffered a sprained right knee in Game 3, Tobias Harris led the way with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Paul Reed put up a double-double in the absence of Embiid with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. And James Harden declared war on all two-pointers as he finished with 17 points on 4 of 18 shooting.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- A disjointed start for the Sixers’ offense allowed Brooklyn to get out to a double-digit lead just four minutes into the game. Despite a heavy diet of isolations, it took Harden nearly eight minutes to record his first field goal, but he was still getting by his defender with relative ease.
- Philly started the minutes Reed spent on the bench going small by sliding P.J. Tucker over to center. They clearly weren’t afraid to get weird as Montrezl Harrell got some minutes to end the quarter as well, his first non-garbage time minutes since early-February.
- A couple of pull-up threes from Spencer Dinwiddie started a hot first for the Nets that saw them start the game at 52 percent shooting from the field. He ended the opening quarter with his third pull-up three of the quarter, giving the Nets a seven-point lead.
- They didn’t get crushed at the rate they did last season, but all four offensive rebounds the Sixers surrendered were back breakers. Despite grabbing three offensive rebounds of his own, Paul Reed did not look his best. Between his layups that were easily blocked or way too strong, he looked like he just needed to slow it down a bit.
- The key to Tyrese Maxey being an effective defender is for him to become an absolute nuisance.
- It was astounding that this was a close game at halftime with the Sixers’ offense looking as ugly as it did. Most of the team struggled from outside, as they shot 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.
- Harden’s struggles, however, continued as he got closer to the basket. He was 3 of 10 from the field despite meeting little resistance from his primary defender. Nic Claxton was also fairly disruptive with four first-half blocks. Luckily for Philly, the Nets’ offense also slowed to a crawl in the second, and they went into the half trailing by only eight.
- Tucker missing wide-open corner threes is tough for the offense, but Tucker passing up wide-open corner threes only to immediately turn the ball over is so much worse. It’s perhaps the best example of this offense getting in their own way.
- After that ugly turnover, the Sixers finally strung a couple of nice plays together to go on a 14-0 run. Despite being in the bonus, the Nets were held scoreless for over six minutes of the third. Reed was everywhere on the glass, grabbing two more boards in the third than he did in the first half.
- In one of the ugliest offensive games of the year for almost everyone involved, Harden was still able to drop this dazzling highlight.
James Harden with the NASTY cross and dime for a corner three pic.twitter.com/7dMHErtSjD— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 22, 2023
- Even during Philly’s run, it was a struggle to get Maxey going. Through three quarters, he was just 6 of 18 from the field. He made three of his last four baskets of the quarter, his last drawing a whistle for an and-one he had been searching for all afternoon. The Sixers held a three-point after the third.
- An ugly start to the final quarter as Harden’s inability to finish an easy basket in the paint reached comedic levels. The Nets briefly re-took the lead before a quick answer from De’Anthony Melton put the Sixers back in front. Like everyone else, Melton struggled in the first half but hit three massive triples down the stretch.
- The most consistent player for the Sixers this series has been Tobias Harris, and he played a big role in putting this game away. He checked back into the game and immediately stripped Mikal Bridges. Harris’ 25 points was a game-high for the Sixers, coming on 11 of 19 shooting.
- Another area that helped the Sixers sweep this series was beating up the Nets on the glass. In Game 4 they won the rebounding battle 63-46. Eight of Paul Reed’s career-high 15 rebounds came on that end of the floor, as he looked like a totally different player in the second half.
- Closing this series out in four was huge after the Embiid news. The Sixers will have at least a week off before their second-round matchup begins. They will await the winner of the Celtics-Hawks series, where Boston currently has a 2-1 lead.