Durant, Nets end Harden honeymoon with 76ers, win in blowout 129-100

0 Comments

Philadelphia fans showed up to boo Ben Simmons.

They just had very little else to cheer for.

Kevin Durant got buckets whenever he wanted, while a playoff-intensity Nets defense kept James Harden in check, holding him to 3-of-17 shooting on the night — and 0-of-10 inside the arc — and held the Nets to a 102 offensive rating. The Nets were aggressive and not backing down from anyone.

The Nets won going away, 129-100, in a game that was never really close after the first quarter.

The 76ers had been 5-0 in games Harden and Joel Embiid had played together, but this was the first test against a team with the talent to really challenge them. The Sixers had no defensive answers, not just for Kevin Durant — who started the game 4-of-4 going at Tobias Harris and finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds — but also for the ball movement and shooting of the Nets in general.

After the game, Doc Rivers said his team did not handle Brooklyn’s physicality well. Plus, he said the Nets just played harder.

The Sixers’ offensive game plan was to attack the Nets going downhill as well, but they felt rushed and committed turnovers or made other mistakes. Harden attacked the rim early and did not get calls he expects, and as has happened in many playoff games he struggled to find a rhythm when the trips to the line were not there.

The lone bright spot for Harden was an early 3-pointer that moved him past Reggie Miller into third on the NBA all-time 3-pointers made list.

Philadelphia also played too much one-on-one, playing right into Brooklyn’s hands. The Nets defense struggles against good ball movement, but allowed to double on Embiid or bring help to Harden and not pay the price with ball movement and threes, the Nets were able to get stops (Embiid did get to the free throw line 19 times on his way to 27 points).

One regular season game is not the measure of a team going into the playoffs, but the Nets exposed issues the 76ers will need to deal with come the postseason. They are a lesser defensive team with Harden on the floor, even with Joel Embiid protecting the rim. They will need to be dialed in, and they were not Thursday night.

This was also a reminder of why the Nets entered the season as title favorites, but the 76ers didn’t do near enough to test Brooklyn’s defensive questions.