With multiple All-Star caliber players from the Nets ruled out against the 76ers, this top-of-the-table clash was expected to be one-sided and it was....but only for the first 40 minutes.
Leading by their biggest lead of 22 (112-90) with 8:21 still remaining on the game clock, Philadelphia seemed to have this one in the books but Brooklyn's reserves had other ideas.
Over the remainder of the game, the Nets' second unit of Bruce Bowen, Alize Johnson, Nicolas Claxton, Landry Shamet (starter) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot outscored the hosts 27-11 but couldn't cap off the late rally. They eventually lost 123-117, however, what's most impressive is that for the entirety of their game-threatening comeback, Kyrie Irving was on the bench and didn't return.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia sent their All-Stars back in to see the game through and Nets head coach Steve Nash did so despite Irving finishing with 37 points and nine assists through the first three quarters. Postgame, he shared his reasoning behind the decision.
Steve Nash said he considered subbing in Kyrie toward the end of the 4th quarter, but ultimately stuck with his bench players- Nets Videos (@SNYNets) April 15, 2021
"I wanted to reward those guys for playing as well as he did" pic.twitter.com/CgArgDyiLm
Five Nets finished in double figures but Bowen with 14 points was the only one of them to be part of the quintet that brought the game back late.
"We won. I'm happy," 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said postgame. "There was a letdown. We kinda letup. It happens. But we won the game. We didn't blow it"
Although they just sneaked through with their lead coming down to as few as three (118-115) with 1:49 left, the 76ers were powered by familiar faces in their trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris.
Embiid finished with 39 points, two days after dropping 36 in Dallas, while Harris scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field and Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, nine assists, and three steals.
Joel Embiid is averaging 33.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.- StatMuse (@statmuse) April 15, 2021
Only two players have averaged more in a season in NBA history - Giannis last year and Wilt Chamberlain. pic.twitter.com/0IJd4FWGdL
"I'm not sure how many points they had in transition but they had way too many," Simmons said postgame of the Nets comeback.
Despite Simmons' displeasure at letting the Nets back into the game, they held on for a crucial win. This victory helps them take sole possession of the top seed in the East with a 38-17 record and, more importantly, win the tiebreaker with the Nets by clinching the season-series 2-1.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.