Nets Plan to Wear Embiid Down, and Leave Simmons Open for Shots
As the NBA Playoffs get closer to tip-off, the reality is beginning to set in for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. It will be a matchup of the third-seed hosting the sixth-seed at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, and the Sixers aren't going to be taking this series lightly, despite being at a higher rank.
It's no secret the Sixers struggled against the Nets in the past. Although Brooklyn is a team that finished just above .500 on the year, they had a split record against Philly in 2018-2019. Two wins for the Sixers, two wins for the Nets. Playoffs is a different kind of monster, which should give the Sixers somewhat of an advantage - but everybody knows that the Nets have a power of their own.
First of all, Sixers' Head Coach Brett Brown already recognizes the struggle in this matchup. "We don't match up well, dangerous, completely dangerous," Brown told the media earlier this week after he found out that Brooklyn will be the Sixers' first-round opponent. As nice as Brown is personality-wise, he isn't just paying respects and being friendly here. He knows this series will not be a walk in the park based off of the pick and roll mismatches alone. Plus, add in the fact that Joel Embiid is still dealing with his knee concerns, and we're talking about a complete game-changer here for the Sixers.
The Nets understand the current circumstance, and that's where they will take advantage. Right now, the Sixers are their own worst enemy, and Brooklyn intends on using that to factor into their gameplan. With Joel Embiid dealing with severe knee pain for the last two months or so, the Nets plan to use a fast-paced gameplan to wear the big man down early and often so by the time the series is in its crunch time, Embiid will need more rest.
Also, according to Nets' veteran Jared Dudley, the team isn't going to show the Sixers other young star, Ben Simmons much respect either. Knowing that Simmons has been unwilling to shoot from medium-to-long range throughout the season once again, Brooklyn plans to leave Simmons be if he has the ball outside of his limits.
"We will leave him wide open until he proves in this league that he can make it," the veteran said about letting Simmons shoot from the outside. "Right now he's not even attempting it. So we know that he's not going to be able to do that for the most part, so what he's going to try to do is post up, get down hill. That's where he's been at his best. So we have to limit that...
A lot of this sounds familiar. Last season, the Sixers were headed into the playoffs with Embiid battling an injury, and Simmons unable to shoot. This year, we could see the same issues, except the Nets, are well aware of it and plan to exploit it all early. The difference-maker in this series will be whether Embiid plays or not. But even if he does, he could find himself limited at the pace Brooklyn plans to play at. They want to take this series down to the wire.
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