|Sixers want to be more physical vs. Nets in Game 2|
Back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, the Brooklyn Nets defended well, produced plenty of offense and flustered the Philadelphia 76ers at times in Game 1.
On Monday night in Philadelphia, the sixth-seeded Nets look to follow up a strong performance while the third-seeded Sixers hope to bounce back and level the Eastern Conference first-round series.
A Nets win would mark the first time they went up 2-0 in a series since sweeping the New York Knicks in the opening round of the 2004 postseason.
The 76ers are trying to avoid falling behind 2-0 in a first-round series when they are the higher seed for the second time in team history.
Both teams are in this position after what unfolded in Brooklyn's 111-102 win on Saturday afternoon.
D'Angelo Russell started slowly by missing 12 of his first 15 shots but led the Nets with 26 points. Caris LeVert helped the Nets outscore Philadelphia's reserves by a 59-26 margin by adding 23 points.
"We weren't rattled," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "You're afraid with this crowd, and the team they have, that they're going to knock you out of the box quick. I thought that we kind of took a couple of punches from them, took a couple of runs and still kept our composure. That's big progress for us. Like I said before, earlier in the season, we just wouldn't have the composure to close a game like that out."
While Philadelphia got 36 points from Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid scored a quiet 22 by missing 10 of 15 shots. Not helping matters for Philadelphia was its other three starters -- Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and JJ Redick -- were non-factors, combining for 18 points on 8 of 23 shooting.
Embiid's health is a key storyline for the Sixers.
Because of the lingering left knee tendinitis that kept Embiid out of 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, it was unknown if he would play before the opening tip-off. Then when the Nets used Jared Dudley at center, Embiid became frustrated at the physicality and picked up a technical foul in the first quarter.
"We've got to -- I think, we've got to be extremely physical," Embiid said. "Hopefully, I'll feel better and gain a couple more of my athletic abilities so I can be down on the block, but that's got to start just be physical starting with me. Jimmy did a great job today attacking. We couldn't back him up so Monday we've got to do a better job."
Depth turned out to be a significant difference in Game 1.
Four Brooklyn reserves played at least 20 minutes, which helped when starting center Jarrett Allen picked up two early fouls and was limited to 9 1/2 minutes. The 76ers played one reserve for more than 20 minutes.
"We're trying to find participants outside of Joel, who we really weren't sure was going to play. It didn't happen tonight," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "We have to get better and find a way to change some things to win."
--Field Level Media