NEWARK, N.J. - Goodbye, New Jersey; hello, playoffs.
While the Nets marked their final game in North Jersey after 35 years (they will move across the river to Brooklyn next season), the 76ers held a mild celebration of their own Monday night after beating New Jersey, 105-87.
The win clinched a playoff berth for the Sixers, who improved to 34-30 with their third consecutive win on the road. They are tied with New York for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Knicks own the tiebreaker. They won the season series between the two teams, two to one.
"I'm happy for the young guys and focusing on how I can get them past first round," said Andre Iguodala, who suffered a bruised calf late in the game. "Every year is a roller-coaster. This year has been kind of crazy with a crazy schedule and injuries, a hot start, then we went through rough areas.
"It's good we're playing good basketball and have been able to pull ourselves together."
The Sixers will play at Milwaukee on Wednesday and at Detroit the next night. New York will host the Clippers on Wednesday and play at Charlotte on Thursday.
The Chicago Bulls can clinch the No. 1 seed with either a win or a Miami loss. Chicago plays at Indiana on Wednesday and hosts Cleveland on Thursday, while Miami plays at Boston on Tuesday and at Washington on Thursday.
Although the effort wasn't as strong as the one displayed in Indiana on Saturday, the Sixers jumped out to a fast start, which seemed to deflate much of the interest that New Jersey, playing without injured all-star guard Deron Williams, had in winning.
The Sixers used an efficient first quarter and at one point had the lead as high as 14 before settling on a 10-point advantage at the half.
Perhaps the halftime celebration by the Nets, in which many former players were introduced, brought new life to New Jersey, which cut the lead to one late in the third quarter at 63-62.
But Thaddeus Young, who had zero shots and rebounds in his first 11 minutes of play, made all five of his shots and scored 10 points in the final 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the quarter to build the lead back up to 76-68 at the end of three.
Young, Elton Brand, and Jrue Holiday led six Sixers in double figures with 15 points. Iguodala, who has been the best player for the team of late, contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Evan Turner chipped in with 13. Lou Williams added 11.
As has become the norm, there was more lineup shuffling by coach Doug Collins. After just 2:20 of play to open the game, Collins was emphatically waving for Lavoy Allen to shed the warmups and get into the game for starter Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic had committed a foul just 17 seconds into the game then twice tried swatting at reachable rebounds instead of grabbing them. That has been a bone of contention for Collins regarding Vucevic, and with a playoff spot for the taking, he had seen enough.
His frustration, though, was quickly erased as fellow rookie Lavoy Allen replaced Vucevic and had a strong performance, contributing nine points and four rebounds in just under 18 minutes of play. Allen started the second half in place of Vucevic.
MarShon Brooks led the Nets (22-43) with 18 points, while Kris Humphries collected 16 points and 12 rebounds.
There was a lot of Philly flavor as the Nets honored former players and front-office types at halftime. Former Sixer players Todd McCullough and Darryl Dawkins, Villanova great (decked out in a loud purple suit) along with former assistant coach Mike O'Koren and current president Rod Thorn were introduced.