The name of the game was adjustments on Sunday as the Nets practiced at Temple University.
Adjusting how to defend Joel Embiid, adjusting their game so that they’re shooting more and successfully, and adjusting when the Philadelphia 76ers put the pressure on Mikal Bridges. Those were the biggest points of emphasis the day after the Nets dropped Game 1 of their first-round series with the Sixers and found themselves trailing 0-1.
Game 1 was a bit of a feeling-out game for the Nets and they received a swift reminder of why Philly is one of the toughest teams to go up against in the East.
“I would say the reason for optimism are the adjustments are kind of in our control,” Dinwiddie told reporters in Philadelphia. “A lot of the rebounds that we missed were just kind of hustle effort type things. You clean that up and then obviously the turnovers you clean that up, and you know, we’re right there in striking distance most of the game.”
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when the Sixers ballooned toward the 20-point disparity it was by the final buzzer. The Sixers took advantage of a strong shooting night from three-point range and a Nets team that seemed to struggle once Embiid passed the ball.
Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn is likely to stick with the plan to double up on the MVP candidate through the rest of the series and Nic Claxton, who was primarily assigned to try and defend Embiid, said that it would be on everyone to make it tough for Philly.
“I think we just need to guard up a little bit more. The double teams are good but at the end of the day, you’ve gotta be able to man up and get stops – or make it difficult,” Claxton said.
One of the most glaring discrepancies, aside from the offensive rebounds, had been the three-point attempts. The Nets attempted 29 while the 76ers made 43 attempts from beyond the arc.
Brooklyn has always been a team that prioritized its three-point shooting and part of that has been creating those looks in their quick transition game. The Sixers kept them from doing that too much on Saturday and something they’d like to get back to in Game 2.
“I think us getting stops and playing in transition helps with that,” Claxton said. “They had a lot of offensive rebounds and with us not rebounding the ball, they’re getting second-chance points, and we’re coming down having to play really slow. So we’ve gotta make sure we’re rebounding the ball.”
The Sixers took a page out of the Nets’ book in Game 1, as well, doubling up Bridges in the second half of the game and effectively eliminating him from the game. Bridges had just seven second-half points on two shots after putting up 23 points in the first 24 minutes.
The Nets told reporters on Sunday that they needed to take advantage of the open looks they’d get with Bridges doubled up, in a similar manner that Philly had done to Brooklyn.
“It’s the same thing with any blitzing defense, right? You gotta get a flash guy and you got to play second side,” Dinwiddie said. “Once you get two on the ball, your job’s done. We talked about that when they blitzed me and stuff like that. It may not be a big scoring game after that but you get that second defense incredibly well if they’re resorting to that defense because it’s basically an admission that they can’t guard you.”
Vaughn added: “We welcome them blitzing and giving us open threes.”