NEW YORK — The 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 112-108, in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Saturday at the Barclays Center.
Here are some observations and best and worst awards:
-There’s no denying that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have protection out there on the court. That was obvious when Jimmy Butler shoved Nets forward Jared Dudley in the back for pushing Embiid. Mike Scott came to the defense of Embiid and Simmons on multiple occasions since being acquired in a trade on Feb. 7. Opponents are realizing the Sixers protect their young superstars.
- Scuffling with Embiid leads to opponents being ejected. Saturday marked the third time dating back to March 20 that an opposing player was tossed after getting into an altercation with the “spirited” two-time All-Star center. Dudley and Butler were both ejected on Saturday. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was tossed back on March 20. Then Milwaukee Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe was ejected on April 4.
- Embiid dominates even when he’s less than 100 percent. The center was listed as doubtful Saturday morning and upgraded to questionable less than two hour before the game. Yet, he went out there and became the sixth player in NBA history to records at least 30 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a playoff game. He joins Sixers general manager Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Ralph Sampson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
- Best performance: Embiid had to get this one, finishing with 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and six blocks in 31 minutes, 30 seconds. Twelve of his points came in the fourth quarter.
- Worst performance: This goes to Joe Harris for the second straight game. The Nets shooting guard led the NBA this season in three-point shooting percentage (47.4). However, he failed to make a three-pointer for the third consecutive. This night, he went 0-for-6 on threes and shot 4-for-14 overall to score 10 points.
- Best defensive performance: Embiid gets this one with a game-high six blocks to go with two steals.
- Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ 20 turnovers.
- Best statistic: I gave this to the Sixers holding a 55-42 rebounding advantage.