Nets host 76ers in first home playoff game since 2015
The third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers will try to maintain momentum when they visit the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series on Thursday.
The Sixers and Nets split four regular season meetings and split the first two games in this first-round series, with Philadelphia setting a franchise postseason scoring record in a 145-123 home win in Game 2 on Monday night.
Like the first two games, All-Star center Joel Embiid remains questionable for the 76ers with left knee soreness.
Despite playing limited minutes Monday, Embiid posted his ninth straight playoff double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He had 22 points and 15 boards in Brooklyn's 111-102 win in Game 1.
After attempting five 3-pointers in the opener, Embiid stayed mostly in the low post and dominated the Nets on 8-of-12 shooting inside the arc Monday.
"I was just taking what the defense was giving me," Embiid said. "I mean if you're going to give me that much space, I feel like I can do a lot of things with it and tonight I just decided to be aggressive and drive the ball. Some nights I'm going to shoot it, but tonight I was just trying to be aggressive."
After a lackluster Game 1 and then criticizing Philly fans for booing the team's loss, Ben Simmons responded with a triple-double Monday with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
"I got a lot of love for this city and the fans here," Simmons said. "Every time I step on the floor, I try and play as hard as I can. I was just showing that. The hustle I try and give each and every game is not only for my teammates, my family, it's for the city."
The Nets will play their first home playoff game in four years. Not much went right for Brooklyn in Game 2 except Spencer Dinwiddie's 19-point effort.
But the Nets took back homecourt advantage with the split. In the playoffs, that's a huge achievement.
"We go back to Brooklyn," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "The old story, if you would have told us before we're splitting here in Philly, I think we'd be happy. But I'm not pleased with the way we presented ourselves. We were below average, quite honestly."
Atkinson added, "One thing about the Brooklyn Nets, they've always bounced back and always responded after a game like this and I expect our guys to respond."
The Brooklyn fans will be surely be ready, especially with what transpired in Game 2 as Embiid was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul for an elbow to Jarrett Allen. Following a lengthy review, the referees determined that Embiid wouldn't be ejected. In the postgame press conference, Embiid began laughing when asked about the incident.
For many reasons, expect an intense matchup in Game 3.
"Very, very excited. I know the Barclays Center is going to be jumping in there," All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell said. "I know our fans are (hungry). Philly fans, they treated us well. I know our fans are going to treat them well, so we're excited about that. Get back home, take care of home court. The buzz around the city is what we need. We need that atmosphere, we need that energy to be up like that."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 17, 2019