NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets - Game 4
The Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets 1st round playoff series continued Thursday night with the teams moving to Brooklyn. The Nets had stolen homecourt advantage by winning the opening game of this series last Saturday 111-102. The 76ers then tied things up with a blowout victory in game 2.
Thursday night, without their man in the middle, Joel Embiid, the 76ers still managed to dominate their young opponents, securing a 131-115 victory. Embiid, who came into the series with some knee trouble, sat out game three due to left knee tendinitis. His teammates did not miss him though.
On the strength of 31 points and 9 assists from Ben Simmons, 29 points and 16 rebounds from Tobias Harris and 26 points from J.J. Reddick, the 76ers sailed to a 2-1 series lead.
This game was much closer than the scoreboard indicates. The 76ers needed - and got - a strong fourth quarter which propelled them to a double-digit victory after entering the final 12 minutes just 7 points clear. The Nets, on the other hand, got great games from D’Angelo Russell with 26 points and Caris LeVert with 26 points as well.
The Nets need to start getting better production from their starters other than Russell. The Nets' remaining 4 starters scored just 32 points in Game 3. Game 4 of this series will tip off at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia 76ers Starters:
Head coach Brett Brown will likely start Greg Monroe, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, J.J. Reddick, and Ben Simmons.
Brooklyn Nets starters:
The Nets will start Rodions Kurucs, Demarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, and D’Angelo Russell.
Expectations and Prediction:
The Brooklyn Nets may want to consider starting their bench for the rest of this series. In games 2 and 3, the Nets substitutes were outstanding, amassing 137 points in total. In game three, the four starters not named Russell combined for 32 points but the bench contributed 57 points, led by LeVert’s 26. If this continues, Brooklyn may stay afloat but they won’t win games in the rest of the series.
D’Angelo Russell, meanwhile, had a bounce-back game. After scoring just 16 points in Game 2, he had 26 points Thursday night. He was great using high screens set by his teammates to get free into the lane for a variety of runners and pull up jump shots.
LeVert, who contributed 26 points as well, also used high screens with the same effect. Look for Brooklyn to run these types of plays more frequently as the series progresses.
The 76ers may have been given a gift by Nets fans. Brooklyn, New York was dotted with “have you seen his jumper” posters in reference to Philly’s point guard Ben Simmons' inability to shoot.
He did not need jump shots to torch Brooklyn Thursday night though, as he dropped 31 points. Simmons obliterated the Nets defense time and again with drives, back door cuts, and movement off the ball for his points. Simmons may have used the posters as motivation rather than giving in to the pressure.
Joel Embiid was a game-time decision for game 3 and it was decided he would be better off not playing. With left knee tendinitis, which may have hampered his play in game 1 of the series, it's unclear if Embiid will be ready for Saturday afternoon’s game 4.
If he isn’t, Greg Monroe will get the start as he did in game three, producing 9 points and 13 rebounds. Embiid’s problems date back to February 21st, 2019 and he has missed 15 games since then because of the knee problem. It’s likely that with a 2-1 series lead and the series returning to Philadelphia after the weekend, the 76ers will allow Embiid to rest.
There are now just 4 games to play in this series and three things are clear. The 76ers' starters are dominant and the Nets starters seem to be overmatched except for D’Angelo Russell.
The Nets bench has kept them close in these games. Finally, the 76ers may want to consider resting Embiid for the series or, at most, having him on the bench in case he's needed. The 76ers are the better team and Embiid is more important to the team’s success in the later rounds of the playoffs. Game 4 should go Philadelphia’s way by a 10 point margin.