PLAYER GRADES: Philadelphia 76ers 131, Brooklyn Nets 115

The Brooklyn Nets were boiling mad about being disrespected on many fronts in their minds by the Philadelphia 76ers before they played Game 3 of their first-round series. However, the Sixers had bigger worries as big man Joel Embiid was out with knee soreness.

Before the game, a Nets fan not happy with perceived slights from Ben Simmons made a funny meme. In the game, the Brooklyn fans gave it to Simmons even worse than Philly fans did last Saturday.

An insulted Simmons apparently is the best kind of Simmons.

With big games from Simmons, Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick and … Boban Marjanovic? (Yup, Bobi was the man) the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 131-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.

The Sixers now hold a 2-1 lead over the Nets in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is back in Brooklyn on Saturday at 3 PM E.T.

Playing without Embiid (who was ruled out just minutes before the start with knee soreness), was a major gut punch for the Sixers, particularly on the defensive end. The Sixers struggle to stop the Nets athletic wing players with Embiid patrolling the middle; to play a whole 48 minutes without ‘The Process’ seemed to open up things for the Nets on offense.

With their defense damaged, the Sixers simply overwhelmed the Nets with too much firepower.

Holding a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Sixers kept pouring in the points and the Nets could not keep up. Coach Brett Brown emptied his bench with two minutes to go.

Brown started Greg Monroe, who missed a lot of bunnies he has made in the past, but Marjanovic was a revelation, scoring 14 points before fouling out in the fourth period.

It looked like the game would be a repeat of Game 2, when the Sixers blew out the Nets in the third quarter. They took as much as a 18-point lead in the period but Tobias Harris then had to leave with his fourth foul and things unraveled with a torrent of bad decisions on offense and defense. The Sixers were still able to take a 97-90 lead into the final quarter.

After a real slow start, trailing 9-2, the Sixers got their act together. The 76ers were up by 10 points in the first quarter and held a 32-24 lead at the end of the period.

Caris LeVert went off in the second period, scoring the Nets’ first 14 points and finished with 19 in the half.

The Sixers still kept scoring, though, and at halftime went into the locker room with a 65-59 lead. Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 16 points followed by Ben Simmons’ 14 and J.J. Redick chipped in with 10.

GREG MONROE

C, Philadelphia 76ers

C

25 mins | 9 pts | 13 reb | 1 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 0 TO | 4-13 FG | 0-0 3PT| 1-2 FT | 3 PF | -9 |

The Philadelphia 76ers have never lost a playoff game that Greg Monroe has started. Of course, considering he joined the team April 4 he has not had much opportunity. He did not do much to erase his reputation for being a poor defender, but he had to be accounted for on the offensive end. He missed a number of shots he usually makes or he would have had a lot more than nine points. Monroe did grab 13 rebounds (seven defensive) against a Nets team that thrives on the offensive glass.

‘Don’t poke the bear’ is an old saying but you should also not poke the 6-foot-10 Australian. The Nets showed their playoff inexperience with two lesser players, Jared Dudley and Rodrion Kurucs, throwing shade on Simmons before the game. All it accomplished was firing up Simmons enough to score a playoff career-high 31 points and play ferocious defense. In desperation, the Nets even tried the ‘Hack-a-Ben’ strategy but, except for one hiccup, he sank the free throws. Without Embiid, the Sixers had to have a big game from Ben, and he delivered.

 

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BEN SIMMONS

PG, Philadelphia 76ers

A+

38 mins | 31 pts | 4 reb | 9 ast | 2 stl | 3 blk | 3 TO | 11-13 FG | 0-0 3PT| 9-11 FT | 5 PF | +11|

‘Don’t poke the bear’ is an old saying but you should also not poke the 6-foot-10 Australian. The Nets showed their playoff inexperience with two lesser players, Jared Dudley and Rodrion Kurucs, throwing shade on Simmons before the game. All it accomplished was firing up Simmons enough to score a playoff career-high 31 points and play ferocious defense. In desperation, the Nets even tried the ‘Hack-a-Ben’ strategy but, except for one hiccup, he sank the free throws. Without Embiid, the Sixers had to have a big game from Ben, and he delivered.