NBA playoffs: What you need to know about the Nets, the Sixers’ first-round opponent
The Nets, behind a nucleus of castoffs and trade acquisitions, will play the Sixers in the playoffs for the first time in (groan) 35 years.
Now that it’s been decided the Sixers will play the Nets in the first round, here are a few things to know about the young Brooklyn squad.
1. Point guard D’Angelo Russell had a career year and has put that inglorious incident where he recorded and posted Lakers teammate Nick Young admitting infidelity three years ago in the past.
2. This season, Russell, 23, became the second-youngest All-Star in franchise history. He’s the only player in the Eastern Conference who averaged 20-plus points and 7 assists.
3. Russell’s 234 three-pointers are a franchise record. Overall this season, he was 234-635 for a 36.9 percentage. For comparison, the Sixers’ JJ Redick was 240-605 (39.7 percent).
4. Veteran forward DeMarre Carroll (11.1 points per game, 25.4 minutes) did not play in Wednesday’s regular-season finale because of a sprained right wrist.
5. Shooting guard Joe Harris says his two biggest basketball influences were his father, Joe Sr., a Hall of Fame high-school coach in Washington; and his college coach, Tony Bennett, who just led Virginia to its first NCAA men’s basketball title.
6. Backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has scored more than 30 points just five times in his five-year career, but he did it twice this season against the Sixers. Dinwiddie had a personal-best 39 in a Nets win at the Wells Fargo Center in December.
7. Most NBA players have endorsement deals, but Dinwiddie wears custom sneakers designed by artist Troy Cole, who also is from Los Angeles. The Nets guard told the L.A. Times in February that he cherishes the reaction of players when he steps on the court. “You just feel good when you know you’ve got something nice on, something special," he said. "This year, in having my shoe, there was a different anticipation to it, looking to see how my peers would receive it. That was different. But there’s a sense of pride to it. It’s fun.”
8. Dinwiddie was recruited by Harvard but went to Colorado instead.
9. The Nets played a league-high 20 games decided by three points or less, going 12-8. The Sixers were 8-8 in such games.
10. The only player in the Eastern Conference with more dunks than center Jarrett Allen is Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
11. Brooklyn’s record the last three seasons: 20-62, 28-54, 42-40.
12. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was Houston’s director of player development in 2007-08, when he worked with Rockets vice president Sam Hinkie.
13. Brooklyn started the season 8-18, closed it 34-22. The Sixers started 17-9 but also closed 34-22.
14. Caris LeVert suffered a gruesome leg injury in November that turned out worse than it looked. He was averaging 18.4 points before the injury and missed 42 games. Since he returned in February, he averaged 11.1 points, though he had two 24-point games in the last five.
15. This will be the first playoff series between these teams since the Nets stunned the defending-champion Sixers in 1984. They were the New Jersey Nets then, winning three games at the Spectrum to take the five-game series. They had never even won a playoff game before that year.
Nets guard Joe Harris was asked by the New York Post to describe the difference in D’Angelo Russell from last season, when he arrived in Brooklyn, to this season, when he has led them to the playoffs.
“I think the talent level has always been there,” Harris said. “He’s always been an All-Star-caliber player. He’s taken steps from a leadership standpoint. You always see him breaking down film. You see him communicating with everybody, just discussing different things that happen over the course of the game, different reads. He’s just matured a lot in that way, and he’s taking on sort of the point guard/quarterback role, and I think you’ve seen, obviously, the game follow suit with that.”
The Sixers and Nets split four games, each winning once on the road.
» Nov. 25: Jimmy Butler wins it at the buzzer
» March 28: Embiid responds by torching the Nets for 39
Sixers vs. Nets
Nets vs. Sixers