NBA Playoff Preview: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets Series

Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Philadelphia 76ers may not have won the Atlantic Division title for the 2022-23 NBA season, but they still finished as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. They are the No. 3 seed in the postseason and set to take on their division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

These two teams completed a blockbuster trade ahead of the trade deadline in 2022, which has caused two different results. The 76ers have championship aspirations after the acquisition of James Harden, while the Nets have almost nothing to show from that trade other than draft capital.

That deal was the unofficial breaking up of the Nets, who also traded Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant ahead of this season’s deadline. No longer contenders, the Nets will undergo a roster upheaval whenever their season ends.

The 76ers are the second biggest favorites currently on the board to win their series at -1000, while the Nets are +660 underdogs. The series spread is -2.5 at -150 for Philadelphia, with Brooklyn being +2.5 at +132.

What can we expect to see in what is predicted to be a lopsided series? Here is all the information you need to watch the games along with some analysis and predictions.

Game Schedule (*=If Necessary)

Game 1: Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers 4/15 at 1:00 PM ET, ESPN

Game 2: Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers 4/17 at 7:30 PM ET, TNT

Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets 4/20 at 7:30 PM ET, TNT

Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets 4/22 at 1:00 PM ET, TNT

*Game 5: Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers TBD

*Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets TBD

*Game 7: Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers TBD

Keys To Series

1. Can Nets Slow Down Embiid?

If the Nets want to have any chance at being competitive in this series, they have to figure out a way to slow down Joel Embiid. Of course, that is easier said than done. Lacking size in their frontcourt, this will be a tall task for Jacque Vaughn and his staff to game plan.

Embiid looks like he could take home the MVP award this season as he was truly dominant. Nicolas Claxton is an excellent defender and has the length to irritate Embiid, but he is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to size and strength.

Claxton, however, has held his own. Embiid has shot 10-of-21 with just four free throws on 69 possessions against Embiid (H/T Action Network). Can he keep that pace up for the duration of a series?

2. Who Steps Up For Nets?

Since trading Irving and Durant, the Nets are lacking experienced playmakers that are used to having the ball in their hands. Spencer Dinwiddie would qualify and Mikal Bridges is growing into that role. Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks.

The Nets lack true ball-handlers and playmakers and don’t have size; it is a glut of two-way wings that have overlapping skill sets. Unleashing Cam Thomas would be an interesting wrinkle for Brooklyn, as he possesses the scoring chops to help take pressure off of Dinwiddie and Bridges. We’ve seen just how explosive he can be this season.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS SCORES: Philadelphia 76ers & Brooklyn Nets Updates

Vaughn has his work cut out for him when it comes to finding easy, consistent offense without a star to rely on anymore.

3. 3-Point Shooting

The only real prayer that the Nets have in making this series competitive is getting hot from 3-point range. They are not shy about hoisting them up, going from a 3-point rate of 37.6 with Irving and Durant, which was 18th in the league, to 43.7 without them, which is fifth.

That could be the best edge that the Nets have to steal a game or two in the series. They have an endless combination of 3-and-D wings they can throw out there to try and keep up with the 76ers.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS SCORES: Philadelphia 76ers & Brooklyn Nets Updates

If Brooklyn gets hot, they have shown the ability to win games. When making 15+ 3-pointers since the deadline, they are 9-1. When they fail to reach it, they are 4-14. 15 made 3-pointers is the magic number for them in this series.

X-Factor: Backcourt Play

There is going to be a lot of pressure on Dinwiddie to carry the load for the Nets offensively. He is the only player they have who has experience playing in isolation as that isn’t a part of Bridges’ game yet.

He is going to have to have some big shooting nights to keep Brooklyn in this series. Thomas is capable and should receive a shot as well as the Nets have nothing to lose at this point. That is the only way that they can combat the onslaught that is about to come from James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS SCORES: Philadelphia 76ers & Brooklyn Nets Updates

Maxey averaged 20 points per game in two matchups against the Nets this season and will have opportunities to showcase his talent in this series. Brooklyn doesn’t have the pieces to slow him down in the backcourt, while Harden has shown flashes of his MVP past at points this season.

Prediction

Oddsmakers aren’t giving the Nets much of a chance to win this series, and it is hard to argue against that. Outside of something catastrophic occurring, such as an injury, it is difficult to imagine the Nets having enough success to slow down Embiid.

As mentioned earlier, 15 3-pointers made is a key number for the Nets. In a seven-game series, they are likely to reach that number at least once, which should be enough to stave off getting swept for the second consecutive year.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS SCORES: Philadelphia 76ers & Brooklyn Nets Updates

But, that is the most that the Nets will win. This will be a gentleman’s sweep, as the 76ers will advance to the second round in 5 games. They will then face off against the winner of the Boston Celtics/Atlanta Hawks series.

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