The Sixers (46-35) hosted the Brooklyn Nets (32-49) on Sunday. Philadelphia wanted to handle business on the final day of the regular season in an effort to avoid the Play-In tournament. Brooklyn wanted to play spoiler to the Sixers' cause. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris combined for 47 points to power the Sixers to their eighth straight victory, 107-86.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Nets were without the services of Cameron Johnson, who has a sprained left big toe. Dorian Finney-Smith was out with left knee effusion.

Keita Bates-Diop has a stress fracture in his right tibia and was not available. Dennis Schroder missed the finale with a sore right achilles. Day'Ron Sharpe was out with right wrist effusion.

Ben Simmons has a nerve impingement in his left lower back and was not available. Dennis Smith Jr. has right hip synovitis and was out. Dariq Whitehead missed the finale due to a stress reaction in his left shin. Jaylen Martin has a sprained left ankle and was not available.

Kevin Ollie started Cameron Thomas, Mikal Bridges, Trendon Watford, Noah Clowney, and Nic Claxton.

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid as a precautionary measure as he recovers from his left knee injury.

De'Anthony Melton missed the finale as he recovers from his back injury. KJ Martin has a left great toe contusion and was out.

Robert Covington remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Nick Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Harris, and Mo Bamba.


- The Sixers' shot quality is generally a variable dependent upon whether Embiid is on the court. So, without him - in a game that the Sixers had to win to guarantee at least homecourt in the Play-In tournament, if nothing else - fear that cold shooting could propel Philadelphia's postseason hopes into dangerous territory would've been completely appropriate. That is especially the case when you consider that it isn't uncommon for athletes to be thrown off by changes in routine on the day of a game. That's a large factor in why afternoon games are sometimes either incredible or extremely ugly with little representation of what is average for the teams involved. So, you weren't quite sure what you were getting in a noon tip-off, especially with Embiid not available to play.

The shooting touch came and went in spurts, the Sixers struggling to break the ice and then quickly jumping out to a seven-point lead. The shotmaking was up and down throughout the first half, but, through thick and thin, the Sixers were about the right things on both ends of the court.

That has been a theme for this team over the past two months: Embiid being sidelined would not be a valid excuse for violating team principles and playing selfishly. It took Philadelphia quite a while, but the Sixers finished off their stretch without Embiid playing outstanding team defense. The shotmaking was iffy from night to night, but they generally operated within a team-oriented framework and created quality looks for each other.

They didn't forget who they'd been the last two months when Embiid returned, and they weren't affected much at all when he was ruled out before the game on Sunday.

Whether in a rut or firing on all cylinders, the Sixers moved the ball with purpose and force, making Brooklyn stay connected on screens and rotate quickly to beat drivers, cutters, and passes to certain spots. If a ball-handler decided to attack off the dribble, they did so with full commitment - not necessarily with eyes for their own score at the rim, but for how the Nets reacted to the threat approaching the paint.

They made plays for each other out of dribble penetration all game long, feeding the teammate in the dunker's spot just as often as they kicked the ball out to the perimeter for open threes. Make or miss, they created advantages to get their shots. No insults levied toward Dr. Naismith or those in attendance on Sunday. The game was played the way it's supposed to be played.

- As much as Philadelphia's synergy was the big story in this game, there were some individual notes to be spotlighted.

You could see Maxey testing some self-creation moves in this game, crossing to his left to fake his signature foot-tap step-back jumper before dribbling hard back to his right to see if he could blow by his defender.

The fifth and final season of Harris' contract has pretty comfortably been his worst with the team, but a strong effort in what might've been his final regular-season game with the franchise. Harris fought hard on the glass, rising amongst the towers when the ball popped off the rim and pursuing long misses on both ends.

The knockout punch in this game might've been a flurry of threes from Buddy Hield to close the third quarter, one of which came as the buzzer sounded. Nothing in this sport is more electrifying than a player riding a brief heater from three, and nothing breaks an opponent's back more than a three to beat the buzzer at the end of a quarter.


- It didn't really matter in the end because all of Philadelphia, Orlando, and Indiana won anyway, but sitting Embiid was a risk the Sixers didn't have to take. After the game, Nurse said that Embiid's absence was precautionary and that he expects the big guy to be ready for Wednesday's Play-In game against Miami.

If something is legitimately wrong, sit him. This team is nothing without him, and if another day off gives Embiid a better chance of being as healthy as possible going forward, by all means. But, if everything is fine and it was more about the way they view their team sans Embiid relative to the Nets, it was an unnecessary risk.

Here's the thing - we'll never know either way. Two weeks ago, Nurse told reporters that he doesn't concern himself with seeding and that he coaches to win the game in front of him. Over this last week, he's suggested that the team is preparing with a heightened level of urgency and treating the end of the regular season as if every night is a playoff game. On Saturday, Nurse told reporters that Embiid participated in that day's practice and looked fine. Then, with something left to play for on Sunday, Embiid (and some others) are ruled out an hour before the game.

The Sixers could very well be telling the truth. It could, indeed, have been precautionary after Embiid briefly left the Magic game on Friday favoring the left knee. But, their history of unclear messaging when it comes to injuries doesn't afford them the benefit of the doubt when something unexpected (that is, unexpected by the public) happens. It's not even necessarily a matter of dishonesty, it's just a matter of transparency.

This could all be irrelevant if Embiid plays on Wednesday. It will be forgotten entirely if he has an incredible game. But, it makes a storyline for at least the next couple of days.

The Sixers (47-35) will host the Miami Heat (46-36) in the Play-In tournament on Wednesday. The winner earns the seven-seed in the East and faces the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on ESPN.

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