Sixers Shake Off Slow Start to Lead the Nets 2-0

It took a while for our stars to shine, but the subs stood tall in a big come-from-behind playoff win at home.

sixers nets playoffs

Tyrese Maxey goes up for a layup against Mikal Bridges during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Nets 96-84. / Photograph by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last night was Game 2 of the Sixers-Nets playoff series, in which the Sixers sprang out to a lead in the first minutes and promptly lost it. At least so far, knock wood, we haven’t been bedeviled by the injuries that so many playoff teams have. But the Nets were hitting on threes early, and the Sixers weren’t. Fortunately, things evened up as the Sixers warmed up and put down a 10-0 run, and at the close of the quarter, the game was a 25-25 tie. Maxey led the team with nine. Our guys already had five turnovers, alas.

In the second, the score stayed close, but the Sixers looked — how to put this? Horrible. Jalen McDaniels had already racked up three fouls, at least according to the officials, and Doc called a time-out early to try to get his troops in order.

It didn’t help much. The turnovers continued, and Alaa and Kate were much displeased with the performance. The team was still missing on three-pointers halfway into the quarter, and suddenly, the Nets were up by eight. The crowd was getting ugly, too. Embiid had only taken three shots at the four-minute mark; James Harden had but two points. Make that a 10-point Nets lead. Things were not going well.

Which was when Harden, driving the basket, dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds.

But then Maxey hit a three to pull the Sixers within five, and hope sprang anew — until Cam Johnson hit a layup right over Joel Embiid.

Oh dear. Johnson had 22 points so far, way ahead of anybody else on either team. Score at the half: 49-44 Nets.

To kick off the second half, Alaa made a rousing speech about the importance of getting off to a good start and stemming the tide, whereupon Joel drove the basket, and … got blocked, nothing doing, plus he landed on his arse. But then Doc called a weird early time-out, and somehow, it seemed like something coalesced. Maxey made a second-chance three on a rebound by Tucker, Harris got a steal, and it was a two-point game. Time-out Nets! (The time-outs in this series seem interminable. SO many commercials!) When the action returned, Embiid tied it at 51 as the Sixers went on a seven-point run. OMG, and Harden hit a three. Harris hit a three! The Sixers were up by eight halfway through the third. At the close of the quarter, Tyrese was up to 23 points, and the Sixers led by five, 68-63.

James Harden drives to the basket against Seth Curry . / Photograph by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Closeout time? Hah. A dubious foul call on De’Anthony Melton brought it back to a one-point differential. Paul Reed grabbed some tasty rebounds and muscled in a layup as he spelled Embiid. A big three for Harden! A fourth (crappy-ass) foul called on McDaniels. Turnovers! A Seth Curry three! A foul call on Curry! Things were really heating up down the stretch. The Sixers were still up by five as Embiid came back in. Man, team dynamics are complicated. Harris had dialed it up and was really coming through. A monster play by Joel!

He chased that up by hitting what Kate called “a Herculean hammer”! And then made a fade-away! Better late than never, right? Nine-point game with two-plus minutes left. Which is when I spilled a big glass of red wine all over the end table and wall-to-wall. First thing I did, of course, even before grabbing the paper towels, was freeze the game. When we restarted, things only got better. (Well, maybe not the wall-to-wall.) Final tally: a huge come-from-behind 96-84 win. We lead the series, 2-0! Song, please! Maxey finished with 33, and Harris had 20 in a second strong playoff performance. “One word: trust,” Harris said when sideline reporter Taryn Hatcher asked him what had fueled the turnaround. Of course. It’s The Process, man.