The Philadelphia 76ers drew the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. What once would have been the marquee matchup in the Eastern Conference now feels almost like an afterthought. Ben Simmons is hurt, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are long gone, and the Nets went sub-.500 after the trade deadline.
That said, there are still intriguing storylines at play. Mikal Bridges went on the record about his saltiness in the wake of Philly’s decision to trade him on draft night (a saltiness much of the Sixers fanbase shares with Bridges). Seth Curry has been an absolute madman in pretty much every game against his former team. And Brooklyn, for all its faults, still has the defensive personnel to hassle Embiid and Harden more than most teams.
With the pressure higher than ever, the Sixers have plenty to gain and even more to lose in this first-round bout. We gathered members of The Sixer Sense crew to dish out predictions.
Series predictions for 76ers vs. Nets
— Justin DiVirgilio
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are facing the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in the playoffs Embiid’s tenure with the team as well as it being the second 1st-round matchup between the two franchises. The previous time being in the 2019 playoffs and the rosters are two completely different cores than in 2019. Joel Embiid is a matchup problem for anyone in the league and that’ll clearly include the Nets. Their only big man is the 6’11 rangy, long, and athletic Nicolas Claxton, who is quite the rim-protector as he averages 2.5 blocks per game.
Claxton, along with the wing rotation of Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Royce O’Neale present the Sixers with defending against something that they lack. That is the ability a little bit everything that is part of the game of basketball. The Sixers are the more well-rounded team though and on top of that, they are equipped with the top-end talent that is essential for postseason success.
What I am seeing in the future for the series is a gentlemen’s sweep of the Brooklyn Nets. The Sixers take care of business by winning the series 4-1 and advancing to the second round. Historically the Sixers as a franchise have had awful luck with sweeping playoff series, not having done so since the first round of the 1990-1991 3-0 sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks. I say all that to say that for the Nets to win a game in this series, the Sixers either have deja vu and get shocked by the Nets in game 1 or Brooklyn wins an all-hands-on-deck game 4 to eventually lose in game 5.
Final prediction: Sixers in 5