Before facing each other in the first round of the playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers (54-28) and Brooklyn Nets (45-37) closed out their regular seasons with an afternoon matchup. In a game that was basically 48 minutes of garbage time, the Sixers won 134-105.
Let’s break down the Sixers’ final game of the 2022-23 regular season.
Sixers player notes:
Mac McClung: 20 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 8-17 FG shooting
After not backing down from the challenge of guarding Trae Young, Jaden Springer played only the opening few minutes in this one. The Team is reportedly managing his minutes despite the fact that he started the game. While he sat out, the Sixers let Mac McClung get a heavy dosage of minutes.
The champion of the dunk contest played this game like he wanted to prove he is a true NBA player. On top of his efficient scoring, which included a few dunks, he made plays for his teammates and showed some good hustle.
Louis King: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 8-13 FG shooting
King, who played a big role in the Blue Coats’ championship, looked like the long, athletic 3-and-D player that Sixers fans have been craving. His jumper looked pure as he made four triples in eight attempts.
Paul Reed: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 5 blocks, 7-14 FG shooting
Reed finished in the paint with ease as the Sixers sliced up the Nets backups’ perimeter defense and stuffed the stat sheet. James Harden liked what he saw.
Shake Milton: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 8-13 FG shooting
Milton, of course, was cooking in a game comprised only of backups. After setting his career-best in assists on Friday, he scored with a variety of nifty moves and assists.
Nets player notes:
Mikal Bridges: DNP-rest (essentially)
Bridges has now played in 392 straight games, including an 83rd game of the season today, in which he was present for the tip-off and then immediately took a foul to sub out. The rising star is surely excited to face Philly in the playoffs but his start today was just a formality to keep his iron-man streak alive.
Cam Thomas: 46 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 16-29 FG shooting
Remember in February when Thomas scored 40 points in three consecutive games? Wild times. In this one, he shot the ball very well from deep and finished in the paint, getting up tons of shots with high degrees of difficulty. He scored 23 in the third quarter alone. He came up one point shy of tying his career-high.
Thomas may be a unitasker, in that scoring is all he brings to the court, but good lord can he score the ball when he gets the chance.
Springer, Shake Milton, Danuel House Jr., McDaniels and Reed started for the Sixers while Bridges, Patty Mills, Cam Thomas, Yuta Watanabe and Day’Ron Sharpe started for the Nets. Bridges fouled Milton on the first play of the game and was immediately subbed out for David Duke Jr. McClung subbed in for Springer after just a few minutes, too. He showed that this game mattered to him by diving for a loose ball and earning Philly a possession.
The Sixers poured the points on in the paint off of short shots and putbacks from Reed and drives from McDaniels and McClung, who threw down a two-handed dunk in the open floor. Dragging Sharpe away from the hoop opened up lanes for Philly, which made 11 of its first 14 shots inside the restricted arc as it built a 14-point lead. Louis King made his Sixers debut and swished a triple and converted on a floater on his first attempts from the floor.
The YMCA, LA Fitness, your local park, whichever gym or basketball court you want to use, this contest had the vibes of pickup games at recreational areas. There were numerous sequences where the teams look discombobulated. It was more intense than the All-Star game but the level of skill was obviously not as high. For what it’s worth, the Sixers cut and shared the rock well, leading to a 20-point advantage after 15 minutes of game time.
The Nets got back into it with Duke and Thomas starting to percolate and their defense looking crisper. Brooklyn’s young guards were cooking in the second quarter and RaiQuan Gray, whom Brooklyn signed to a two-way deal yesterday, notched 10 points and five assists in the period. At the break, the Sixers led 61-53.
Reed’s defensive activity helped the Sixers push the lead back up to double digits. On the next possession, he hit a triple, his first of the season. King hit another triple, finished a transition layup through a foul hit a mid-range jumper and dished to McDaniels for another fast-break bucket. The young wing’s mobility and confidence with the ball make him a very intriguing prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.
Thomas wasn’t going to be upstaged in his house, though. He came back with some buckets of his own, one of which was a fall-away layup over Reed. The shots he ended up taking were not easy — pull-up jumpers from deep and drives into the lane through defenders — but it hardly mattered. The LSU product was in the zone and pretty much chipped away at Philly’s lead single-handedly.
Back-to-back triples from McClung followed by back-to-back baskets from Milton padded the Sixers’ lead as Thomas cooled off. Montrezl Harrell helped to propel the offense as a finisher and playmaker, giving Philly an easy road to victory as they went on a 28-9 run over roughly eight minutes in the fourth quarter.
Doc Rivers had himself an eventful pregame media availability, saying that all he wants to do is watch the Masters and putting the Dallas Mavericks on blast.
I really like these throwback Nets uniforms and matching court.
Next up: the playoffs.
The post Sixers vs. Nets instant breakdown: Backups close out regular season ahead of playoff matchup appeared first on ClutchPoints.