With Brooklyn’s win over the Magic Friday night, the Sixers and Nets will officially square off in round one of the 2023 NBA playoffs.
Both teams will have the luxury of rest and practice time as the NBA’s play-in tournament commences next week. Game 1 will be at the Wells Fargo Center and likely take place next weekend.
If we told you in January that the Nets and Sixers would play each other in the first round ... holy moly. Alas, most of the juice has been sapped out of the matchup with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving being dealt and Ben Simmons being shut down for the season.
Instead, we’ll be treated to endless pictures of Mikal Bridges in a 76ers hat on draft night of 2018. Bridges, acquired from Phoenix by Brooklyn in the Durant blockbuster, was famously (and we can comfortably say egregiously) traded to the Suns after being selected 10th overall by the Sixers. It’s a nasty stain from the defunct front office collaborative.
Bridges’ star turn with the Nets makes it an even tougher pill to swallow. In 25 games with Brooklyn, Bridges has averaged 27.4 points on 61.7 true shooting. He will be a handful for the Sixers’ perimeter defenders.
While there’s no KD or Kyrie to contend with, the Nets aren’t devoid of threats. Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s had success against the Sixers in the past, has set the table well in his second act in Brooklyn. Like Bridges, Cameron Johnson has taken his game to another level with the Nets and presents a challenge with his length. Nic Claxton is an ascending young big.
And don’t forget our old friend Seth Curry. No doubt he’d like to make his former team (and father-in-law) regret ever moving him.
Before we get to Game 1, these two teams will play an Easter Sunday matinee (1 p.m., ET, NBCSP). It’s hard to imagine either squad will play many regulars or reveal much strategically. We’ll have much more on this series and storylines next week.