PHILADELPHIA — It might have taken a game and a half, but the Philadelphia 76ers finally arrived at their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets with a historic third quarter in Monday night’s 145-123 win.
Leading by just one at the half after dropping Saturday’s Game 1 at home to fall behind in the series, the Sixers outscored the Nets 51-23 in the third quarter with a dazzling display of precision on both ends.
Joel Embiid, a game-time decision because of discomfort in his left knee, got things started, going on a personal 8-0 run. Embiid’s spark extended to the entire team as Philadelphia pushed the run to 21-2 in the first four minutes of the quarter. Philadelphia shot 6-for-8 (corralling the offensive rebound on both of those misses) while Brooklyn went just 1-for-8 (0-for-3 on 3-pointers) with three turnovers in that span.
Embiid left the game in the fourth quarter after rolling his ankle when Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepped on his foot going up for a basket near the rim. Embiid went to the bench and grabbed the ankle, wincing. He stayed on the bench and did not appear to receive treatment for it.
Entering Game 2, Sixers coach Brett Brown acknowledged how important it would be to climb back into the series.
“For sure, anxiety and urgency gets expedited when you lose at home in Game 1,” Brown said. “And because we’ve all kind of been doing this awhile, you learn. And you try to avoid this in a regular season, where the highs and lows aren’t as dramatic. In the playoffs, it’s hard to avoid that. Like, even as sane as I try to be and preach about psychological stability and a balance, you’re mindful.
“Like, tonight is a really big game. And so you can’t deny that. And so be it. That’s what you coach and you play for, and there’s nothing like the NBA playoffs. … So, we feel it. We feel it, and I think that’s a good thing. I really do. I look forward to watching us respond to our loss at home from the other night.”
Game 3 is Thursday in Brooklyn.