The 76ers were unable to flip on the postseason switch.
So, they find themselves trailing the Brooklyn Nets, 1-0, in the best-of-seven opening-round playoff series. The Nets built a commanding 17-point cushion and held on to an 111-102 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers will definitely look to improve before the squads square off in Game 2 Monday night at the Center.
Philly has to “be more physical with their guards, try not fouling, easier said than done,” reserve Mike Scott said. “Make shots.”
It was obvious that the offensive inconsistency and defensive woes that plagued the Sixers in the regular season haven’t been resolved.
And yes, the sellout crowd of 20,487 let them hear about it. It started booing midway through the first quarter.
By the fourth quarter, it booed loudly after breaks in the action.
The displeasure wasn’t just aimed at what was going on on the court.
An ESPN camera spotted Sixers reserve Amir Johnson and Joel Embiid viewing Johnson’s cell phone in the fourth quarter. Both players, according to the ESPN telecast, were spotted laughing. Johnson went to the locker room right after the incident. Using a cell phone on the bench is a violation of the NBA Operations Manual. The violation results in a suspension and/or a fine.
After the game, the Sixers announced that Johnson was fined an undisclosed amount for his actions. He was not available for comment at the conclusion of the game. However, the team issued a statement from Johnson roughly two hours after the game.
“I apologize for having my phone on the bench in today’s game,” he said. “I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences of my actions. I also apologize to my teammates, the 76ers organization and the fans for the distraction this has caused.”
Embiid said Johnson had a phone because his daughter “was extremely sick.”
“He was checking on her,” said Embiid, who didn’t mention the laughing. “I don’t know. I just looked. But he was checking on his daughter. She’s sick.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown learned of the duo’s actions on the way to his post-game press conference.
His first thought was “it’s completely unacceptable,” Brown said, " and second, we will deal with it internally I’m sure very soon."
He went on to say "it is not something that we are and certainly don’t condone.”
On the floor, Jimmy Butler was one of the team’s only bright spots on the afternoon.
The swingman finished with a playoff-career-high 36 points to go with nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. But the Sixers’ other starters struggled from the field.
Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds after being a game-time decision with tendinitis in his left knee. The two-time All-Star center made just 5 of 15 shots.
He was noticeably out of shape and still appeared to be hobbling.
“I mean, I decided [to play] about 15 minutes before the game, 20 maybe,” said Embiid, who had missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games. “I was there just thinking ‘Oh my gosh, push through the pain.’ And obviously, it came with a loss. But I was just trying to do the right thing.”
Ben Simmons had nine points on 4-for-9 shooting, but his final numbers are misleading. Simmons was 2-for-6 through three quarters.
Tobias Harris (four points) and JJ Redick (five) both shot 2-for-7 from the field. Redick fouled out with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left, having made just one of four three-point shots.
Redick was also targeted on the defensive end. The Nets basically fed the ball to whomever he was guarding.
Nets All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell (26 points) and reserve guards Caris LeVert (23) and Spencer Dinwiddle (18) kept beating Redick and anyone else who tried guarded them off the dribble with ease. Nineteen of Russell’s points came after intermission. After missing 9 of 11 shots in the first half, Russell made 8 of 14 in the second half.
LeVert and Dinwiddie led a Nets bench that outscored its counterpart, 59-26.
The Sixers shot 40.7 percent from the field and just 12 percent (3-of-25) on three-pointers.
“It wasn’t really rushing, just they weren’t dropping for us tonight,” Harris said of the threes. “I don’t think we really got the looks we wanted from three. So that adds into that, too.”
Defensively, they gave up a lot of wide-open looks on threes. The Nets took advantage, making 11 of 26 (42.3 percent).