The Brooklyn Nets will head to the court Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with a lot of uncertainly.
With the Nets down 3-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the best-of-seven series, it could be the last game of the season. A fact that is not lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team.
“I think we have a chip on our shoulder,” Atkinson said Monday of his team’s mentality going into Game 5 in a hostile environment. “I almost felt like we’re more motivated. And that’s my take from practice. I know we have to do it on the floor, but I know yesterday, myself as a coach and [general manager] Sean [Marks] and the whole organization, we’re almost like we’re going in there with a chip on our shoulder. I think we’re more motivated than ever.”
Nets All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell has led the team in scoring in the series, averaging 22.3 points along with 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals. However, it has been Caris LeVert (21.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 47.8 3PT%) who has arguably played the best basketball for Brooklyn.
LeVert, who missed half of the season with a dislocated foot, noted the Nets are used to dealing with adversity.
“I feel like for us as a team, that’s kind of what we’ve been through all year,” LeVert said. “We’ve had tough losses, that we had to shake out of our memory, and kind of go out there the next couple of days and try to correct it and get a win. if any team can do it, this is the team to do it.”
In addition to strong performances from Russell and LeVert, the Nets will need to get Joe Harris going. After a strong performance in the team’s Game 1 victory, the long-distance sharpshooter has missed all 12 of his 3-point attempts. Finally, the Nets have to contain Sixers center Joel Embiid, who is averaging 25.3 points and 13.7 rebounds in three games.
If the Nets can accomplish those things, perhaps they’ll be back at Barclays Center on Thursday for Game 6.