Brooklyn Boro

Nets running out of ‘second chances’

Brooklyn returns to Barclays Center in 0-2 hole vs. 76ers

April 18, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Nets got bullied in Philadelphia.

Now, they have to fight back in Downtown Brooklyn.

The series may be 2-0 in favor of the 76ers, but the 39-3 edge in second-chance points thus far in this best-of-seven is the reason Philadelphia will be at the Barclays Center Thursday looking to put the Nets in an even deeper hole.

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“We have to enjoy hitting and we have to hit first,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn insisted after Monday night’s 96-84 Game 2 loss to the Sixers in front of a sellout crowd of 20,958 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tyrese Maxey poured in 33 points and MVP front-runner Joel Embiid added 20 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists as the Sixers made the most of their home-court advantage and the Nets’ defiiciencies along the interior.

Philadelphia (2-0) battered Brooklyn (0-2) inside, outrebounding the Nets 56-33, outscoring them in the paint, 46-22, and shutting them out, 18-0, in second-chance points.

Tobias Harris added 20 points and 12 boards for the Sixers, who only got eight points on 3-of-13 shooting from former Net James Harden en route to their sixth consecutive playoff victory over Brooklyn dating to 2019.

“It was time for us to realize we need to be ready,” Harris said. “We need to pick our energy up. We need to pick our body language up. This is our arena. This is our home floor. This is our win that we need to get.”

Cam Johnson’s 28 points weren’t enough to offset Brooklyn disadvantage on the boards and in second-chance points in Game 2 Monday. AP Photo by Derik Hamilton

After watching his team squander a 10-point first-half lead in Saturday’s Game 1 loss in the City of Brotherly Love, Vaughn saw his team go up 49-44 at the half in Game 2 before being outscored 24-14 in a dismal third quarter.

“We didn’t play our best basketball, but in the second half we just figured out what worked and we kept doing it over and over and over,” Embiid said.

The Sixers led 69-68 after Spencer Dinwiddie completed a three-point play with 10:54 left in the fourth period, but Paul Reed hit a jumper, Harden drilled a 3-pointer and Harris added a basket to stretch the advantage to 76-68.

Cam Johnson scored a career playoff-high 28 points and Mikal Bridges had 21 for Brooklyn, which shot a dismal 37.5 percent (30-of-80) from the floor.

“We did it for two quarters, we have to do it for four,” said Vaughn. “We need everybody to show up and be ready to play (in Game 3).”

“That’s playoff basketball man. That’s a good team,” added Johnson, who went 11-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.

Dinwiddie finished with 12 points for the Nets, who weren’t able to shoot over the Philadelphia zone, which Sixers head coach Doc Rivers employed in the second half.

“We got great looks, but we didn’t knock down the shots,” lamented Royce O’Neale, who misfired on all but two of his 11 attempts for Brooklyn en route to scoring eight points.

“The only adjustment made was that ball didn’t go in the hole for us,” Vaughn added. “We got open looks, they tried to go zone, we had enough shooting out there. The ball just didn’t go in.”

Seth Curry added nine points off the bench for the Nets, who will try to avoid falling into an 0-3 series hole, something no NBA team has ever crawled out of, Thursday night on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

“Looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd for sure,” noted Vaughn.

Jacque Vaughn is looking forward to the Nets reversing their playoff fortunes at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Thursday night. AP Photo by Derik Hamilton

NOTHING BUT NET: Game 4 will be in Brooklyn on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Nets lost all four regular-season meetings to the Sixers, including the meaningless regular-season finale 134-105, on April 9. … The Nets forced 19 turnovers in Game 2 while committing only nine. … Philadelphia held a 13-5 edge in offensive boards.

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