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SportNBA playoffs 2019: Predictions, picks for 76ers vs. Nets first-round series

02:55  12 april  2019
02:55  12 april  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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NBA playoffs 2019: Predictions, picks for 76ers vs. Nets first-round series © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

As ever with the Sixers, the story is the health of center Joel Embiid. He came out of the All-Star break with a mysterious knee injury that caused him to miss eight games down the stretch, and now it appears he might not play in the opener against Brooklyn. That would be a tough blow to a team that is still working out its chemistry after making two in-season blockbuster trades, first for Jimmy Butler then for Tobias Harris.

The group of Embiid, Harris, Butler, JJ Redick and Ben Simmons has been together in the starting five only 10 times this season. It won’t help that the Sixers start the postseason with the ever-hustling Nets, whose backcourt depth — All-Star D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie as the starters with Caris LeVert and NBA 3-point leader Joe Harris off the bench — presents a major problem for Sixers coach Brett Brown.

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The Brooklyn Nets have locked up a 2019 NBA Playoff berth and we broke down their matchup against the Philadelphia 76 ers . The Brooklyn Nets already knew heading into their season finale against the Miami Heat that they were playoff bound.

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76ers vs. Nets: Schedule, breakdown, prediction

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)
April 13 Game 1 at Philadelphia 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
April 15 Game 2 at Philadelphia 8 p.m. ET (TNT/fuboTV)
April 18 Game 3 at Brooklyn 8 p.m. ET (TNT/fuboTV)
April 20 Game 4 at Brooklyn 3 p.m. ET (TNT/fuboTV)
*April 23 Game 5 at Philadelphia TBD
*April 25 Game 6 at Brooklyn TBD
*April 27 Game 7 at Philadelphia TBD (TNT)

(*if necessary)

The key player

It’s Embiid, all the way. In his last appearance against Brooklyn, Embiid had 39 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

He torches the combination of Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis in the middle for the Nets, so whatever advantage Brooklyn might establish on the perimeter can be wiped out by Embiid playing the wrecking ball on the interior. But he’s got to be healthy.

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Injury woes for 76 ers and Celtics as NBA playoff seeding set. There was also concerning news for 76 ers fans when Philly GM Elton Brand told reporters it was possible Embiid would not be ready for his ball club’s first round series , which will almost certainly be against the Brooklyn Nets .

The big number

102.64. That was the Sixers’ pace factor this season, eighth in the NBA. They prefer to play fast.

But maybe not against the Nets, who have a pace factor of 101.78, 11th in the league. They, too, can play fast and considering their depth in the backcourt — as well as the advantage Embiid gives them in the half-court game — it might be wise for the Sixers to slow things down.

Neither team is particularly efficient in transition, but slowing things down would play more to Philadelphia’s advantages.

76ers vs. Nets prediction

The Nets have what it takes to put a scare into the Sixers, but not enough frontline talent to move to the second round. It’s been a brilliant season in Brooklyn, and being able to push Philly in this series should be taken as a positive.

76ers over Nets, 4-3

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