Thanksgiving came early for the Philadelphia 76ers, who feasted on the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center Sunday afternoon. Led by the NBA's Most Valuable Player Joel Embid, Philly soundly thrashed Brooklyn in a 121-99 blowout, the largest margin of defeat for the Nets this season. In the 2023-24 season so far, the Nets have 6 wins 7 losses.
Brooklyn reserve guard Lonnie Walker IV led the Nets with 26 points and 6 rebounds off the bench, while Embid filled the stat sheet with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists, narrowly missing out on his first triple-double of the season. Philadelphia guard Tyrese Maxey added 25 points and 10 assists.
The low-scoring first quarter offered some hope that the Nets could, if not squeak out a victory, at least stay competitive with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Philly came into Sunday’s contest with a 1-2 record over the last three games after opening the season 8-1. The 76ers led 23-22 at the end of the first quarter and rang up 38 points in the second quarter, shooting 53.8% from the field, 75% from three and 100% from the line.
The Nets were down 61-49 going into intermission and weren't competitive in the second half. However, the lopsided loss comes with an asterisk because Brooklyn is missing two key players, point guard Ben Simmons and shooting guard Cam Thomas, who have been out injured for the last several games.
The 2023-2024 Brooklyn Nets are designed for switchable defensive schemes, transition scoring and good 3-point shooting. The Nets are built to score in transition and are good at that. Yet, the offense gets bogged down in half-court sets. In Brooklyn’s last victory over Orlando, they were able to get out in transition by forcing turnovers, but that was against a young and inexperienced Magic backcourt.
They could not force a high rate of turnovers with the 76ers, whose guard tandem of Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton and Patrick Beverly combined for just three turnovers in the game. Conversely, the Nets had 15 turnovers in the loss, which helped lead to 22 fastbreak points for Philly.
Without causing turnovers and with transition architect Simmons on the bench, the Nets couldn't get out on the break to score before Philly set up in their defense, which features Embid protecting the rim.
Embid is big. Maxey is fast. Melton and forward Harris are good. Beverly is intense. Without the full complement of Nets players, this game was the 76ers to lose and as a team with championship aspirations, their killer instinct was on full display as they cruised into the final period with a 94-71 lead.
Philly has the second half of a back-to-back with an in-season tournament game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Walker has been a bright spot off the bench and has shined with Thomas and Simmons out with injuries, but other than that, there's nothing good to say about Brooklyn’s loss to the 76ers. The Nets will have a shot at redemption on Wednesday, Nov. 22, when they travel south to face the Atlanta Hawks.
The Nets are 2-1 in the in-season tournament and have a good shot at making it to the quarterfinals.