The Eastern Conference No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers take on the No. 6 seed Brooklyn Nets in what promises to be an exciting matchup between two Eastern Conference up-and-comers. Just two seasons ago the Sixers and Nets had the two worst records in the East, so it’s fair to say that both teams have come a long way in a short period of time.
The Sixers are coming off of their second straight playoff appearance after they were bounced by the Boston Celtics in the second round last year, while the Nets are making their first appearance in the postseason since the 2014-15 season. Both will be looking to make some noise.
The two teams split the four games that they played over the course of the regular season, though the Sixers won the most recent meeting at the end of March — Brooklyn simply didn’t have an answer for Joel Embiid, who poured in 39 points along with 13 rebounds and six assists.
Here’s everything you need to know about this first-round matchup between the Sixers and the Nets.
No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets
How to watch Game 1
- Date: Saturday, April 13
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- TV channel: ESPN
- Online streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: 76ers -7.5
Playoff series schedule
All times Eastern
- Game 1 (at PHI): Saturday, April 13, 10:30 p.m. — TV: ESPN
- Game 2 (at PHI): Monday, April 15, 8 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 3 (at BK): Thursday, April 18, 8 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 4 (at BK): Saturday, April 20, 3:00 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 5* (at PHI): Tuesday, April 23, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 6* (at BK): Thursday, April 25, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 7* (at PHI): Saturday, April 27, TBD — TV: TNT
Odds and Analysis
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Nets: Not too many people had the Nets penciled in as a playoff pick prior to the season’s start, but they surpassed expectations this season and landed in the postseason for the first time in four years. The All-Star play of D’Angelo Russell had a lot to do with the Nets’ success this season, but they benefit from an all-around effort, as they also boast one of the most productive bench units in the entire league. Ultimately though, the question for the Nets will be if they have enough firepower to keep up with Philadelphia’s explosive first five.
76ers: The Sixers have turned things around quickly — very quickly. They just completed their second straight 50-win season, and are headed to the postseason for the second year in a row — not bad for a team that won just 10 games three seasons ago. General manager Elton Brand swung for the fences in acquiring Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in separate blockbuster deals, and has assembled arguably the most formidable starting unit in the entire East. The main questions facing the Sixers as they enter the postseason are chemistry (that starting five has still only played 10 total games together as a unit), and depth.
Matchups to watch
1. Joel Embiid vs. His own health: Embiid’s health is a central storyline, not only for the first round, but for the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture. Embiid missed much of the Sixer’s final portion of the season due to lingering knee soreness, and Brand admitted that there was a chance that Embiid wouldn’t be ready for the start of the playoffs. The Sixers have a lot of talent, but Embiid is the engine, and his availability is imperative for Sixers success.
2. Philadelphia’s talent vs. Brooklyn’s depth: On paper, most would agree that the Sixers are the more talented team. However, the Sixers also have one of the league’s least productive benches, while the Nets are on the opposite end of that spectrum and have the second-best bench in the entire NBA in terms of points per game. The series will come down to if the Sixers’ top-tier talent can outweigh a more-balanced Brooklyn attack.
3. Brett Brown vs. Kenny Atkinson: Brett Brown made his postseason debut as a head coach last year, and this year Kenny Atkinson will do the same. Playoff basketball becomes much more of a chess match, as teams play each other multiple times in a row, and it will be interesting to see how these two counteract each other.
Series prediction, pick
Sixers in six: The Nets are talented enough to keep this series interesting, as two of their strong points — depth and guard play — happen to be weaknesses for Philadelphia. However, at the end of the day, the Sixers have more elite talent than the Nets, and in the playoffs teams tend to rely much more on their key contributors, which works in their favor. The Nets — and specifically Russell — will make the Sixers uncomfortable at times, but ultimately Philadelphia will take care of business and move on to the second round.