When the 76ers return to practice on Sunday, they have a multitude of things to work on after Saturday’s dispiriting 111-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at the Wells Fargo Center.
As if losing home-court advantage wasn’t enough, the Sixers lost in just about every key category.
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While it’s easy to point to the Nets’ 59-26 advantage in bench scoring, the major difference came in how Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie -- two Nets reserves -- consistently beat the Sixers off the dribble.
The 6-foot-7 LeVert and the 6-6 Dinwiddie entered the game with a combined two minutes of playoff experience. That was courtesy of the Dinwiddie’s two-minute cameo in the 2016 playoffs with the Detroit Pistons.
Neither was awed by the big stage.
Both players set up their drives with long-range shooting. LeVert hit all three of his threes and Dinwiddie was 2 for 5.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell, despite a 10 for 25 shooting night, also beat the Sixers continually off the dribble.
As Sixers guard JJ Redick pointed out, this wasn’t exactly the first time the Nets beat a team off the dribble.
“They are tough off the dribble every day for everybody,” Redick said. “Three of my fouls were those iso-situations so I have to be better.”
It’s hard to imagine him being worse.
Redick shot just 2 for 7. He scored five points, 13 below his average, before fouling out.
Give Nets coach Kenny Atkinson credit for exploiting Redick’s defensive misgivings.
The Nets often isolated players on whoever Redick was guarding and frequently won the matchups.
LeVert scored 23 points and Dinwiddie added 18.
When asked if he felt the Nets could take Sixers off the dribble any time they wanted, LeVert said: “Yes, I think so, especially the second unit. There are a lot of matchups we like to exploit. Spencer and I tried to come in there and give us energy any way we could but I think it worked out for us.”
Sixers forward Mike Scott, who played 32 minutes and 29 seconds off the bench, said he and his teammates have to execute better fundamentals to keep the Nets from darting to the basket.
“We got to move our feet better, get lower, myself included. Watch film, know their tendencies, come back Monday,” Scott said, referring to Game 2.
There were some obvious other areas the Sixers need to improve, including three point shooting. They were just 3 for 25.
Scott hit 1 of 8 shots, all from three-point range.
“We have to make shots,” Scott said.
It’s a little more detailed than that, as Tobias Harris explained. He was asked if the Sixers were rushing shots.
“It wasn’t really rushing, they just weren’t dropping for us tonight,” Harris said. “I don’t think we really got the looks we wanted from three so that adds into that too.”
Harris said the Sixers never got into an offensive rhythm and part of that stemmed from the defensive end, having to work so hard to guard the Nets.
“A team like that is making us defend, pretty much the entire 24-second shot clock,” Harris said. “... On the other end we are letting them off the hook, when we don’t correspond to that. I thought all night it was a struggle or us to have an identity of how we are going to play offensively.”
Having center Joel Embiid go 0 for 5 from three-point range doesn’t help.