The Philadelphia 76ers (38-17) regained sole occupancy of the top spot in the NBA Eastern Conference with last night’s 123-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets (37-18).
Joel Embiid played a key role in that victory for the 76ers. Not only did he score 39 points, he also landed 13 rebounds and 2 assists in what was a monster of a performance from a player that is making a real case to be the NBA’s MVP this season.
Tobias Harris backed up Embiid with 26 points, while Ben Simmons hit 15 points and 9 assists.
FIRST IN THE EAST. pic.twitter.com/KNcuy8Verd
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 15, 2021
Kyrie Irving, who returned for the Brooklyn Nets last night, scored 37 points with 9 assists in that defeat with DeAndre Jordan also landing 14 rebounds alongside his 12-point contribution.
Close Game Ebbed And Flowed
The Brooklyn Nets were dealt a blow when Kevin Durant was ruled out for the game along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and James Harden. Kyrie Irving did return and had a stellar game, but not being at full-strength for this game was a blow for Brooklyn.
In contrast, the 76ers were at full-strength for the game and it showed with Embiid in particular putting in a dominating performance to heighten calls for him to be considered as an MVP for the season.
All four quarters of the game were closely fought, with the 76ers establishing a lead across the first three quarters and then holding off Brooklyn in the fourth to emerge with a key victory.
At one point, the 76ers held a 22-point lead, but some stellar play by the Nets ensured the game finished a lot closer than that.
The problem for the Nets was that they did not have anybody to effectively defend Joel Embiid and while that isn’t too much of a problem in a regular season game, across seven games in the playoffs it could become a big issue.
Joel Embiid is first Sixer to score 75 points in consecutive games
And play less than 60 minutes
(According to records going back 38 years ago) pic.twitter.com/zxsYxNWphQ
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 15, 2021
Top Seed In The East?
At the end of the game 76ers coach Doc Rivers was asked whether this win over the Nets cemented the 76ers desire to finish as top seed in the Eastern Conference this season.
“We haven’t really talked about it a lot,” he stated initially.
“We’re just talking about winning games. It clearly would be nice to have,” he added though perhaps belying the fact that his team do want that #1 seed heading into the playoffs.
Ben Simmonds however was far more forthright about his team’s desire to be the top seed in the East describing it as “very important” and “We want that one seed.”
Joel Embiid was one 76ers player who wasn’t happy at his team allowing the Nets back into things after that 22-point gap had opened up.
“We made a bunch of mistakes,” complained Embiid after the win.
“We turned the ball over defensively. We didn’t have the focus we had all night. That can’t happen if we’re a team that wants to compete for a championship.”
With the 76ers now having a relatively comfortable run in to the end of the season and an apparently much easier schedule than the Nets, it does look like Philadelphia have the destiny of that top seed in their own hands.
With three top teams in the Easy in the 76ers, Bucks or Nets, it would mean that the top seed would only have to face one of these teams in order to reach the NBA Finals. Little wonder then that it would certainly be ‘nice to have’.
Other NBA Results From Wednesday Night
There were ten other games in the NBA that took place last night and the results of these games are shown below:
- Charlotte Hornets 90-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
- Toronto Raptors 117-112 San Antonio Spurs
- Chicago Bulls 106-115 Orlando Magic
- Detroit Pistons 98-100 Los Angeles Clippers
- New Orleans Pelicans 106-116 New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder 109-147 Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets 124-132 Indiana Pacers
- Memphis Grizzlies 113-114 Dallas Mavericks
- Denver Nuggets 123-106 Miami Heat
- Sacramento Kings 111-123 Washington Wizards
Luka Doncic was the star for the Dallas Mavericks netting a late score to propel the Mavs to a one-point win over the Grizzlies. Steph Curry was another star performer on the night netting 42 pints, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in the Warriors comfortable win over the Thunder. Draymond Green also shone with a triple-double of 10 rebounds, 16 assists and 12 points in the game.
There’s another big game to enjoy tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meet up, while another key game sees the Utah Jazz take on the Indiana Pacers.