The Sixers didn’t put in their best performance on Saturday afternoon.
They lost the turnover battle at a -6 margin. They allowed 13 offensive rebounds while only grabbing 12 themselves. They managed two fewer shots than Brooklyn while hitting just 76% of their free throws and eight of 26 three-pointers. Brett Brown’s team only mustered nine fast break points while finishing the game short-handed after Jimmy Butler’s ejection.
But they hung in there, showed some resilience on the road, and simply made more plays down the stretch, more than a young Nets team that displayed their nascent playoff experience with some inexplicably brutal shot selection and a number of crippling turnovers. The Sixers went on a 16 to 7 run that began at the 4:22 mark in the fourth quarter and took them to the final buzzer.
It was the first truly close game of this series, and Philly was simply better in clutch time scenarios minus their best fourth quarter option in Butler, who was sent to the locker room after what I thought was a total nothing-burger of an altercation. I’d call it a pseudo-melee or faux-donnybrook. Twice the Sixers pulled to within three points and just could not grab the lead until the third effort, as those scenarios played out in this fashion:
- First time: They missed two shots before Boban was whistled for an offensive foul. Brooklyn pushed the lead back to eight.
- Second time: JJ Redick missed an open three and D’Angelo Russell hit one on the other end in a back-breaking six-point swing. At that point, the Sixers were 6-23 from deep (26%).
- Third time: Offensive foul on Joe Harris, Redick misses another three, Sixers get a defensive stop, Embiid dunk, then Brooklyn turnover and Embiid bucket.
Third time was the charm, that six-play stretch of possessions where they got a stop that was book-ended by Brooklyn turnovers. They kept beating down the door and finally went ahead at the 2:54 mark and made more plays en route to a 3-1 series lead.