NEW YORK — Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards from the 76ers' 127-125 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night at the Barclays Center.
– This has been obvious since the start of last season. Ben Simmons needs to shoot from the perimeter to keep opponents honest on defense. The Nets' defensive tactic was to remain at least 10 feet from Simmons while he was on the perimeter. One example was his being left completely unguarded while standing two feet beyond the three-point line with 7 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third quarter.
– Jimmy Butler showed why he needs to get the ball more, especially in the half-court, if the Sixers expect to compete with the NBA's elite teams. The Sixers swingman was more involved in the fourth quarter, which enabled Philly to overcome a 13-point deficit. He made all seven of his shots in the quarter.
– Yes, Joel Embiid is just that good that he doesn't need to rest. The All-Star center finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds after spending the afternoon at the Jets-Patriots game at MetLife Stadium.
– As much as the Sixers bring up analytics to say otherwise, their defense hasn't improved. And that's saying a lot with solid defenders in Butler (trade) and Wilson Chandler (overcoming injury) now in the lineup. So one could argue the scheme is the major problem.
Best performance: Butler gets this for his fourth-quarter heroics. He scored 18 of his team-high 34 points in the quarter on perfect 7-for-7 shooting, including four three-pointers. His biggest shot was the step-back three-pointer to make it a 127-125 game with 0.4 seconds left.
Worst performance: I had to give this to Mike Muscala. The Sixers reserve post player had an off shooting night. He finished with one point after missing his four shots, all three-pointers.
Best defensive performance: This goes to Simmons. His defense made up for a night when he made just 5 of 13 shots. Simmons finished with three steals and two blocks. Two of his steals and one of his blocks came in the fourth quarter.
Worst statistic: Brooklyn's 16 turnovers.
Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers' shooting 77.8 percent in the fourth quarter.