Starting five dominance key for 76ers in opening round versus Nets

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Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a 51-31 record this season. They were excellent at home with a 31-10 record and 20-21 on the road. They face the Brooklyn Nets, who finished with the sixth seed with a record of 42-40 and 19-22 on the road. The teams split the four meetings during the regular season.

The Nets took the first game of the season on November 4, 2018 at home by a 122-97 score. Hollis Jefferson lead the way with 21 points. Jarrett Allen had ten rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie had eight assists. For the 76ers, Ben Simmons topped the scoring with 20 points, while Joel Embiid hauled in 15 rebounds and had four assists.

The 76ers rebounded in the next meeting in Brooklyn, winning by a 127-125 score on November 25. Jimmy Butler, who was not on the roster for the opening meeting, lead the 76ers with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Ben Simmons added nine assists in the victory. D'Angelo Russell lead all players with 38 points in the loss. Jarrett Allen again lead the Nets with 10 rebounds. 

In the first game between the teams in Philadelphia on December 12, the Nets prevailed by a 127-124 score. Spencer Dinwiddie lead all players with 39 points, while Ed Davis hauled in 10 rebounds and D'Angelo Russell had seven assists in the win. Joel Embiid paced the 76ers with 33 points and 17 rebounds in a losing effort.

With the 76ers roster set as it is now for the playoffs, they defeated the Nets at home on March 28 by the score of 123-110.  Joel Embiid again dominated play, scoring 39 points with 13 rebounds. Ben Simmons added eight assists in the win. For the Nets, sharp shooter Joe Harris lead with 22 points. Hollis Jefferson hauled in 10 rebounds and D'Angelo Russell had eight assists.

Comparing the teams statistically, the 76ers ranked 4th in scoring, outscoring the 15th ranked Nets by 3.2 points per game. The teams were dead even in points allowed at 112.5 per game. Both teams were excellent on the boards, ranked 4th and 8th, respectively.  Sloppy ball control was a theme all season for both teams, ranked near the bottom in turnovers. The Nets attempt nearly six more three-point shots per game on average, but the 76ers hit a higher percentage from beyond the arc.

Individually for the 76ers, Joel Embiid is the clear leader, averaging a team high 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game. Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler both add around 18 per game but have been slumping from beyond the arc. JJ Redick enjoy his best NBA season, averaging 18 points on 40 percent from three-point range and 89 percent from the free throw line. Ben Simmons completes the strongest starting five in the conference, averaging 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists per game. Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott and TJ McConnell lead an average bench.

D'Angelo Russell leads the Nets in scoring at 21.1 points per game and seven assists per game. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a strong second scoring option, averaging 16.8 per contest. The 76ers will have to keep an eye Joe Harris, hitting 47 percent from beyond the arc. To compete with the strong rebounding of the 76ers, Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis average a combined 17 rebounds per game. Caris LeVert and DeMarre Carroll complete a solid unit that averages in double-digit points per game.

The Nets have given the Sixers tough games throughout the season, however with the 76ers current lineup since the trade for Tobias Harris defeated the Nets comfortably in their only meeting. The 76ers haven't been playing on all cylinders down the stretch, albeit have played fairly meaningless games having playoff position clinched. The team with the better talent generally wins a long series. Therefore, look for the 76ers to end the Nets season in no more than six games. 

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