By Tennie Sumague
EBC New York Bureau
PHILADELPHIA (Eagle News) — Game 1 seemed to be a distant memory for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Jared Dudley soap opera hoopla came to a closing end.
The Sixers schooled the Nets on their home court, demolishing their Atlantic Division rivals 122-100 to win their first-round series 4-1 Tuesday night. The Sixers opened the first quarter on a 26-3 run, built a 39-point lead and continued their momentum in the second half. The game was pretty much over by the end of the third quarter.
This series had its moments of drama – a war of words between Ben Simmons and Dudley, a slew of technical and flagrant fouls from Joel Embiid topped a heated ejection in Game 4 between Dudley and Jimmy Butler. This action-packed series combined with minor adversity wasn’t enough for the Nets to overcome. The young team looked like playoff novices that got trounced by the more experienced Sixers. By the fourth quarter, the game turned from a rowdy playoff series to a pick-up basketball game.
The growth and success of the Nets came to a surprise for many. From being the worst team in the NBA to becoming a playoff-bound team, kudos goes to Head Coach, Kenny Atkinson, who turned the organization around in his third season at the helm.
“Tremendous respect for Brett [Brown and] for the Sixers organization,” said Atkinson. “They’re going for big things and I think they can compete for a championship, quite honestly. At the end of the day, we weren’t good enough.
“We have a long way to go. We understand where we are, we’re pleased we’re improving and being a better team than last year, and making the playoffs, but we understand the level where the Sixers are – that’s a long ways away. And we understand that. But I think it’s also going to drive us. Very proud of our guys. Just a wonderful season. People picked us [for] 32 wins, 30 wins, and to come up with 42 and the sixth-seed in the playoffs, I’m very proud of what we accomplished this year.”
The Sixers will face another Atlantic division foe, the Toronto Raptors, who finished off their series with the Orlando Magic at Scotiabank Arena. Philadephia has had little success with the Raptors, but the after this playoff series win, their confidence is undeniably unstoppable.
“We all understand what the math says about our success with Toronto, and it’s not flattering,” said Sixers Head Coach Brett Brown. “But it’s also not directed to the team we have. I think we have a new group, we have a new opportunity. I’ve got tremendous respect for the Toronto team. But we’re excited to go up there and try to fix some of what the math says – our lack of success that we had – and it’s going to be a tough series. I think that Toronto is as good as there is in the NBA. And we will be tested immediately when we get up into Toronto.”
The Sixers scored a total of 612 points during the postseason; the most points scored in a First Round series in franchise history. The last team to score 600+ points in a playoff postseason series was the 1989 Phoenix Suns.
(Eagle News Service)