But with Brooklyn’s deep reserves making the match between the two top teams in the East run late, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid signed up to bail the check-out Sixers.
Embiid got 39 points and 13 rebounds and Philadelphia beat Brooklyn 123-117 on Wednesday night in a predictable match that left the Nets missing their biggest stars.
“When the knockout stages started, it was a whole new beast. And we will be ready for them, ”said 76ers coach Doc Rivers. “And I’m sure they’ll be ready for us.”
The Sixers (38-17) took first place in the Eastern Conference and drew the winner in a match without James Harden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. With Nets highlights getting hurt or just resting, the game has more of a pre-season feel than a possible preview of this summer’s conference final.
No problem, the Sixers are back at the top of the standings and have the No. 1 seed in sight with just 17 games left this season.
“It makes sense to try and have as many home games as possible,” says Rivers.
With good reason – Sixers have improved to 21-5 at home.
“I think they are comfortable at home,” says Rivers. “Young teams are usually comfortable at home. I guess the surprise this year is (record) no fans. I can definitely understand it with fans. “
The Sixers had 4,094 fans spread across the arena to see Embiid have another stellar match against the non-German Nets. He has scored 21 points after the break, 14 of 20 in the first half of this season (the most in the NBA).
Kyrie Irving scored 23 points in the first half – his eighth in the first half of the season – and finished with 37 points. Irving missed Tuesday’s match against Minnesota for personal reasons. Irving, though, sidelined as deep reserves helped the Nets rise from 22 points down to 118-115 with 1:15 left.
Landry Shamet scored 17 points, while DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
“I don’t want to get rid of the team that’s doing very well,” said Nets coach Steve Nash. “I want to reward good players as they do.”
Embiid and Simmons, who had already scored 17 points, watched most of the fourth match from the bench until they were on the pitch in the final 5 minutes. Embiid set victory from the free-throw line to the tune of “MVP!” pray.
“They shouldn’t come back,” says Rivers.
Sixers has “had to close our games,” Simmons said.
“We have to close that fourth quarter,” Simmons said.
Harden sank out with a strained right hamstring and Durant was given a night off after playing 27 minutes against the Timberwolves. The Nets are having trouble with Durant as he returns from a left hamstring injury.
Yes, the Nets could still be the favorite betting team to win the championship – FanDuel Sportsbook picked them on Wednesday night as the 11-5 favorites – but pushing the # 1 seed isn’t worth the tradeoffs. have a strong squad for the post-season season.
“It would be great to have seed 1. I think it means a lot, it has value,” said Nash. “But it was not about losing our players or prolonging our injuries. So I think we have to be very cautious and make sure our boys finish as comprehensively as possible.
Nash dismissed suggestions the Nets made to Durant to keep the Sixers guessing what they might look like with a full unit in the playoffs.
“I think when you start really trying to be cute, most of the time it backfires,” he said. “It is not strategic. That is, here’s what this is the availability that we have. “
Tobias Harris made all six shots in the second half and scored 13 of his 26 to help the Sixers start opening the game. Simmons closed third on the fastbreak dunk with a 94-84 lead that rose out of the small and enthusiastic crowd.
Nets: Also played without Tyler Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie and Chris Chiozza. Chiozza had surgery on Wednesday after he got injured in a match against the Timberwolves.
76ers: C Dwight Howard sat out with pain in his left knee. … DJ Jazzy Jeff rang the ceremony bell. … Harris says he’s dealing with a nagging knee injury.
Rivers continued to protest against police brutality and said police unions were needed after the death of 20-year-old black driver Daunte Wright in a Minnesota shooting.
“I think that’s where our energy should go, because we have to deal with this situation where you feel like you’re getting rid of murder because you’re protected,” says Rivers. “When you take it, I think there will be a change.”
Nets: host Charlotte on Friday.
76ers: hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
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