Top MVP candidate Joel Embiid is on the spotlight yet again as he looks to carry the Philadelphia 76ers into the playoffs, hopefully at least on the conference finals this time. The scrappy Brooklyn Nets are ready to present a challenge, though.
Catch the game this Sunday, April 16th, at 1:00 AM, Manila time.
HOME: Philadelphia 76ers (0-0)
Projected starting five:
- Tyrese Maxey
- James Harden
- Tobias Harris
- PJ Tucker
- Joel Embiid
The Sixers closed out the regular season winning four of their last six games, averaging 115.9 points per game with a +1.5 net rating in that span. It’s a good enough stretch, one that can certainly add to their confidence for the series.
The only time Philly met this new iteration of Brooklyn was last February 12th (Manila time). They won a tight game, 101-98, with the usual suspects providing the damage. Joel Embiid had a game-high 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while James Harden scored 29 alongside six assists. Both should be able to perform as such on Sunday. Hopefully, though, third and fourth scorers Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris can be productive as well as they combined for a horrid 5-for-20 (1/7 from three) shooting in that aforementioned game.
From talent to experience, there’s little doubt that this Sixers team has the upperhand. Beyond the names above are good role players with playoff mileage, like PJ Tucker. Look for him to possibly be an X-Factor in certain areas.
AWAY: Brooklyn Nets (0-0)
Projected starting five:
- Spencer Dinwiddie
- Mikal Bridges
- Cam Johnson
- Dorian Finney-Smith / Ben Simmons (out)
- Nic Claxton
The Nets also ended their regular season on a high note. Prior to resting the starters in the finale, they were on a 5-1 stretch where they scored 114 PPG and compiled a +9 net rating.
As big underdogs, what’s interesting about this group is the wide collection of either ‘3 and D’ wings or just straight up sharpshooters – it’s simply across the lineup. Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Yuta Watanabe – guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Cam Thomas could arguably be in there too.
But, of course, much of the scoring mantle rests on the shoulders of Bridges. He raced into 26.1 PPG output in his 27 games as a Net, and was even at 30.7 PPG in the previous seven. It will be interesting to see how much he can produce in his first playoff series as a premier weapon. We’ll see if he can get ample help from his sea of shooters.
Big man Nic Claxton will also have an enormous task as he’ll matchup with Embiid. He has the wingspan to alter the top MVP candidate’s shot, but that’s if he doesn’t get into foul trouble early.
Handicap: The Sixers (-8.5) don’t cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total hits the over (214.5).