During the first half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets were rolling. Cameron Johnson was splashing shots from all over the court, while Joel Embiid and James Harden were, conversely, struggling to find their rhythm offensively. Brooklyn led by five points at halftime, 49-44, and looked primed to steal a win on the road.
But the wheels fell off for the Brooklyn Nets in the second half, as the Sixers outscored them by 17 points over the final two frames and went on to win by a final score of 96-84. And while several Nets players underperformed on Monday, two, in particular, stand out as deserving of blame for Brooklyn’s second-half collapse. With all this in mind, here are two Nets who laid eggs in Game 2:
2 Nets to blame for Game 2 collapse vs. Sixers
Finney-Smith was a major component of the trade package that sent Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks back in February. He’s a strong defender who can guard a cornucopia of different players. But Finney-Smith struggled mightily to score the ball with any semblance of efficiency as a Net during the regular season (he shot 35.1% from the field and 30.6% from behind the three-point arc across 26 appearances). And this status quo carried over into Monday’s Game 2, as Finney-Smith simply couldn’t buy a basket.
Finney-Smith finished with eight points and converted just three of his nine field-goal attempts, including two of six threes. His 2-for-6 clip from deep marked his worst night shooting the three-ball in nearly a month.
Believe it or not, Finney-Smith is only two seasons removed from shooting 39.5% from three, so he’s clearly capable of shooting the ball accurately from long range. If he can rekindle his former shooting touch over the next few games, it could go a long way toward helping Brooklyn make this series interesting.
Offensively, Bridges was rock-solid on Monday. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, though he did a good job playmaking for his teammates, as he dished out a team-high seven assists. But on the other end of the floor, Bridges was underwhelming, to put it mildly.
Bridges has a reputation for being an elite defender at the wing position, but he failed to live up to that reputation on Monday. The Sixers shot 13-for-19 with Bridges as the primary defender, which is a scorching 68.4% clip. Tyrese Maxey, in particular — the star of the game for Philadelphia — lit up Bridges, both from outside and inside the three-point arc. Maxey dropped 13 points on Bridges on excellent shooting splits to boot (62.5%/60.0%).
Thursday’s Game 3 between the Nets and Sixers is a must-win game for Brooklyn. After all, if they lose and go down 3-0 in the series, history will not be on their side. Never in the NBA has a team clawed all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. Of course, the series wouldn’t be officially over if the Nets lose on Saturday, as it takes four wins to advance. But Brooklyn’s chances of winning would be astronomically low.
Here’s to hoping that, on Thursday, Finney-Smith shoots the ball better from behind the three-point arc, Bridges defends Philadelphia’s guards/wings better, and the Nets beat the Sixers at home to put some pressure on Embiid and company.