PHILADELPHIA — Royce O’Neale slapped the stanchion when actuality set in. Jacque Vaughn replayed wide-open missed photos in his head on the rostrum whereas making an attempt to answer questions postgame. Dorian Finney-Smith sat at his locker, solemn.
“F—, man,” he said.
The Nets had a risk to even their first-round playoff sequence at one apiece after establishing momentum in a formidable first half in entrance of a raucous, sold-out Wells Fargo Middle crowd on Monday.
The wheels fell off throughout the second, the place the offense sputtered — as quickly as as soon as extra. The Sixers went on to win, 96-84. NBA teams that take a 2-0 lead throughout the playoffs go on to win 93% of the time.
And it was a zone safety the Nets had been ill-equipped to take care of that unraveled Brooklyn’s early offense. Whereas star wing Mikal Bridges effectively handled the Sixers’ makes an try to blitz him on the catch, it was Cam Johnson who took advantage of the prospect — throughout the first half — scoring 23 elements via the first two quarters.
He solely tallied 5 additional elements on the night. No completely different Nets participant had an setting pleasant scoring night. Johnson shot 11-of-19 from the sector. The rest of the crew shot 19-of-61. Thirty-one %.
“We’re in search of anyone [to step up],” Vaughn said postgame. “I really feel C.J. has the facility to try this effectivity time and again. That so much perception and notion in his means, man it makes me smile fascinated by what his sport is true now and what it’s going to transform.
“Do we want another individuals to step up at dwelling? I’ll take all of them. Anybody you need to join, put them on a listing, I’ll verify that factor off. We want everyone to point out up and be able to play.”
The game plan labored to a tee — nevertheless usually the game plan works and also you proceed to search out your self shedding by double digits.
Brooklyn’s sport plan was pretty straightforward: Take away Philadelphia’s two-best players: A former MVP stage guard in James Harden, and this season’s presumptive MVP, Joel Embiid.
For the second sport in a row, the Nets held Embiid beneath his season widespread (33 elements per sport). After scoring 26 elements in Recreation 1, the blitzing Web safety held the professional 280-pounder to easily 20 in Recreation 2.
And after Harden pelted the Nets for seven threes and 13 assists throughout the sequence opener, Brooklyn restricted its ex-star guard to solely eight elements on 3-of-13 taking photos. He dished seven assists nevertheless turned the ball over 5 cases.
The Nets wished to win the turnover margin, and they also did: Embiid and Harden accounted for 13 of the 19 Sixer turnovers on the night.
The Sixers, though, are deeper than their two superstars. The Nets proceed to hunt for options previous Bridges and Johnson. When the Sixers’ second-half zone thwarted the Nets’ fast tempo from the first two quarters, Vaughn’s crew couldn’t reply.
Brooklyn scored 14 elements throughout the third quarter. The game turned, and the Nets certainly not recovered.
“I believe that’s the place you need somebody to step up in that occasion,” Vaughn said postgame. “And so would we have now cherished for Joe [Harris] to shoot eight threes and make eight threes? Sure, and so then he may have been the man. So that you’re simply in search of, in playoff time, somebody to make an impression in the event you’re going to strive to remove their important two dudes.”
But when the Nets took away Embiid and Harden, the Sixers flexed the depth of experience that legitimizes them as championship contenders this season.
Tyrese Maxey hit six threes and scored 33 elements on a Nets crew keyed all one of the best ways in on Philly’s two stars. To an extent, Brooklyn’s sport plan was to pick out its poison.
“There’s a component of that, however on the similar time, that’s not a poison you wanna decide,” Johnson said postgame. “Maxey teeing off open threes from the nook. … Harden was on the incorrect aspect of that one right this moment: Eight factors, and that’s what we wanna do, however in video games like this, that 33 from Maxey on effectivity is fairly killer.”
There’s one saving grace for a Nets crew going by way of the uphill battle associated to teams who fall down, 2-0, in a playoff sequence: They’re heading residence to Barclays Middle, and place players are prone to play greater in entrance of their very personal followers.
After the Nets generated merely 29 three-point makes an try in Recreation 1, they purchased up 42 on Monday — nevertheless reworked on solely 13 of them.
“The one adjustment made was that the ball didn’t go into the outlet for us,” Vaughn said postgame. “We bought open appears: They tried to go zone, we had sufficient taking pictures on the market, the ball simply didn’t go in. We shot over 40 3s tonight, I can virtually assure a whole lot of these appears we’ll take once more.”
The odds aren’t on Brooklyn’s side, nevertheless the Nets hope they’ll get some life from a home crowd that will buoy them to an unlikely victory in the direction of a crew poised for a deep playoff run.
“We want it,” Vaughn said. “You will have a way of enjoying at dwelling, and there’s one thing to waking up in your individual mattress and attending to the world in your routine. So we’re not gonna take that with no consideration going dwelling. Sixers can be able to play, however wanting ahead to enjoying in entrance of our dwelling crowd for positive.”
“I really feel like if we do what we simply did tonight: We stored them underneath 100 factors,” added Dorian Finney-Smith, who shot two-for-six from downtown on the night after taking photos two-for-two in Recreation 1. “I imply what else are you able to ask from an amazing staff like that? If we made pictures it might be a special ending.”