Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson said before this game that he was expecting a “haymaker” from the Sixers, a team he believed was “too good and too well-coached” to fall apart after one playoff loss.
If the Sixers took a left hook on Saturday afternoon, they came back with a massive overhand right on Monday night, throwing that haymaker in the form of a 21-2 run to open the second half, leading to an outrageous 51-point third quarter and 22-point win. They pulled level with the Nets at one game apiece as the series shifts to Brooklyn, which contains more hipsters per capita than Kensington and East Passyunk combined. Philly is back in this thing with 48 hours of rest before a short trip up the highway to the Barclays Center, and maybe the best part about the blowout is that Joel Embiid only had to play 21 minutes last night before taking a seat on the bench.
Now let me be honest with you –
I’m not big on fans leaving early during any win, especially when the playoffs begin. The crowd, which was excellent last night, starting filing out with more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as both teams pulled their starters and let the reserves do mop up duty.
The early exit encapsulated a bizarre scene overall, a quirky example of just how quickly this city went from tight-sphincter worrying to 100% blowout boredom, which is hilarious to me considering how itchy and negative everything was during the two full days that followed the game one loss. It’s goofy how big of a difference one good performance can make in the mental health department, how much it changes the tone on sports radio and social media, where knee-jerk reaction is king.
And what a performance we got. The energy and purpose was ten times what we saw on Saturday, just a sense of urgency that was not there in game one. The guys who had bad games had good games, Joel Embiid was able to rest in the fourth quarter, and Brett Brown made a couple of key lineup adjustments that really helped turned this thing around, so we’ll start there, after the jump: