Although the Brooklyn Nets played with a competitive spirit throughout Game 1, they were no match for the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. Sixers superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden led Philly past the Nets 121-101, pulling past Brooklyn in the second half in a playoff series that could end early for them.
Following the game, Sixers forward Tobias Harris would speak about his team’s play, singling out veteran and defensive specialist P.J. Tucker’s contributions (h/t ClutchPoints’ Sam DiGiovanni):
“Yeah. I mean, playoff basketball is just about every possession. P.J., he gave us more possessions out there on the floor by crashing the glass and just being physical out there.”
Harden, who finished the game with 23 points and 13 assists, would weigh in on his impact as well:
James Harden on P.J. Tucker:
“That’s what we brought him here for. The extra possessions, the shot-making in the corners, his defense. That’s the reason why he’s on our team.”
— Sam DiGiovanni (@BySamDiGiovanni) April 15, 2023
Tucker finished the contest with just six points but anybody who knows his role is aware that — even though he’s worked diligently to be a respectable off-ball threat — the 37-year-old isn’t on the floor to score.
What people really need to look at with Tucker’s everywhere else. On Saturday, his primary impact was on the boards and on defense, as he recorded seven rebounds and five steals. Five of Tucker’s rebounds came from crashing the offensive glass and was a major reason that the 76ers outscored the Nets 21-3 in second-chance points. Brooklyn also had 19 turnovers in Game 1 to Philadelphia’s eight, outscoring them 31-11 in points off of turnovers.
Moving forward, the Nets are unlikely to underestimate P.J.’s impact. Interestingly, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn made an NBA career out of being a defensive specialist while holding a career scoring average of 6.6 points per game. He, above anybody, should have keyed on Tucker a bit more.
You live and you learn though.
Game 2 is set for Monday, Apr. 17, at 7:30 p.m. ET.