PHILADELPHIA — If the Nets’ Achilles’ heel is size, the Sixers’ is sporadic shooting and a shaky bench. And in Saturday’s first-round playoff Game 1 — a 111-102 Brooklyn victory — the Nets did a better job of punishing the Sixers’ flaws and hiding their own.
All season long, the Nets’ bench has been arguably their greatest strength. And when the Nets were reeling in the first quarter — Joel Embiid on fire, Jarrett Allen in foul trouble — the reserves came in like the cavalry and saved the day.
Ed Davis had a 12 points and 16 rebounds and finished plus-28, the latter two both game-highs. Caris LeVert had the next-best plus-minus at 18, scoring 23 points and grabbing four rebounds.
“Game changer. Jarrett got in foul trouble and Ed was the key,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He really gave us the physicality we needed, obviously the rebounding, did a great job on Embiid and Boban [Marjanovic]. He changed the game.
“Throw Caris in there. Our bench — really great job by Caris. I thought he changed the game too with his athleticism, his energy, his speed.”
The Nets held the 76ers to 40.7 percent shooting and just 3 of 25 (12 percent) from deep.
Meanwhile, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie (18 points) came off the bench and turned the tide. The Nets’ guards have gotten to the rim at will against the 76ers all season, and did it again Saturday.
“Yeah, I think so, especially in the second unit. There’s a lot of matchups we like to exploit. Spencer, myself tried to just come in and give us energy any way we could, and it worked out,” said LeVert, who has regained his early-season form after missing almost three months with a dislocated foot.
“It was big,” LeVert added. “Especially because, you know, we got the win. I’d said all along, I wasn’t really too worried about my offense, I knew it would come at any point. My teammates have been confident in me every step of the way, telling me to keep going and that’s all you can ask for.”
Said Jared Dudley of LeVert: “Its tough, man. With the devastating injury, he had the mentality to be able to come back, credit him getting extra work, staying with it, you’ll see it, his confidence grew.”
Dudley also came off the bench to help defend Embiid, frustrating him so much the All-Star picked up a technical for throwing him down.
“He’s just smart and he’s got that little physicality that can guard 5s,” DeMarre Carroll said. “You’ve got to give credit to coach Kenny. Not too many coaches are going to put a 6-foot-5, 240 [pound] slow guy on Joel Embiid, but he did. That’s JD. We call him ‘Grampa.’ But he studies the game plan, he watches film and he knows the game.”
Published at Sun, 14 Apr 2019 04:03:49 +0000