The NBA playoffs wasted no time in creating drama on Saturday. All of a sudden, the No. 2 Toronto Raptors and No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers aren’t guaranteed to meet in the Eastern Conference semis. Both home favorites lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs in somewhat dramatic fashion. Now, pressure falls squarely on teams we thought we’d have doubts about once the postseason started.
A 12-0 run to end the first quarter gave the Brooklyn Nets the lead for good in their win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets were trailing 22-19 after Boban Marjanovic layup gave the 76ers are three-point lead. Moments later, DeMarre Carroll spurred a run to take the wind out of the 76ers. Carroll’s 3-pointer gave the Nets a one point lead. Another Carroll layup was followed by Spencer Dinwiddie’s 3-point dagger. Then Carroll connected on another 3-pointer to give the Nets a 31-22 lead at the end of one. They never relinquished the lead and the Philly fans became restless.
D’Angelo Russell shook off a slow start to lead the Nets with 26 points and 4 assists. Joe Harris also scored in double figures with 13 points, while Carroll finished the game with 11 points. However, the Nets’ bench was up to their usual antics. Caris Levert poured in 23 points on 8 of 18 shooting. Dinwiddie scored 18 points. Ed Davis scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high 16 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the 76ers only had three players reach double figures. Jimmy Butler led the way with 36 points and 9 rebounds. Joel Embiid had a rough shooting night, but still finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Embiid was a gametime decision and it showed. Embiid was only 5 of 15 from the field, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range.
In all, the 76ers were limited to 3 of 25 from 3-point range. The Nets finished 11 of 26 from 3-point range. Yet, shooting was not the only factor during the 76ers’ loss. Whenever they attempted to make a comeback, the 76ers would turn the ball over. They even had two miscues directly after forcing Nets’ turnovers in the second half.
Game 2 is set for Monday at 8 p.m. The Nets will be looking to complete the road sweep before heading back to Brooklyn.
Notes: Amir Johnson was caught with his cell phone on the bench. The 76ers fined him an undisclosed amount after the game.
The No. 7 Orlando Magic also won the opening road game on Saturday. They defeated the Toronto Raptors 104-101 behind D.J. Augustin’s game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in the game.