Philadelphia 76ers @ Brooklyn Nets
The Nets enter this game having only won two of their last ten games whereas the Sixers have won six of their last ten.
TJ McConnell has struggled to find his shot lately. Prior to the new calendar year, McConnell was shooting well over 50 percent from the field. In the 16 games he’s played in February and March TJ has shot under 44 percent from the field. When you factor in his few and far between three-point attempts that number begins to look even worse. Robert Covington is also another guy on the Sixers who is having shooting struggles.
Robert Covington’s shot has always been inconsistent. He started the season really cold last year and found his rhythm later in the season. However, this season has sort of been the inverse for him. Covington was lights out in October and November shooting 46.7 percent and 39.6 percent from three respectively. Since then there hasn’t been a month where Covington’s field goal percent by itself has hit 40 percent .
The Sixers acquired former Hawks Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova after they were bought out. Considering the Sixers needed three-point shooting both additions make sense. However, neither one can play any defense. When Marco and/or Ersan on the floor they are going to get shot attempts, but if the Nets attack those matchups on the opposing end the worst case should be trading baskets.
Defending The Youth
The Nets have been pretty good at defending the wings positions, but tend to get burned by point guards and big men. Ben Simmons might be classified as a point guard, but he’s a 6’10” and because of his size the Nets can put one of their wing defenders on him. Simmons and Joel Embiid love to score in the paint.
Therefore, the Brooklyn Nets have to do whatever they can to keep them away from the basket. With Simmons, he cannot shoot so Carroll, Hollis-Jefferson, or whoever is guarding him can sag off when Simmons is on the perimeter. Heck, they can even leave him open in the mid-range. However, Embiid can hit those mid-range shots so Jarrett Allen cannot give him space there, but Embiid is only shooting roughly 31 percent from three this season so keeping him on the perimeter makes a lot of sense.
Take What The Defense Gives You
There is no particular area on the floor where the Sixers are weak at defending. Robert Covington and Ben Simmons are both very good perimeter defenders whereas Joel Embiid is an excellent interior defender. Also, the Sixers lead the league in rebounds per game, so shot selection is going to be key from the Nets.
Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell have been really good at finding their shots lately. On the flip side, Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have gone a bit cold offensively, but don’t count them out. Hollis-Jefferson is great at getting to the basket and Dinwiddie shows up in clutch situations. The Sixers will have to decide whether they want to take away shooters or protect the paint. Kenny Atkinson should adjust the game plan to attack whichever area of the floor Philadelphia is willing to give up space.
The Sixers are favored by 6.5 points which is significant considering they are the road team. For the Nets to stay competitive in this one they will have to contain Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Date: Sunday, March 11, 2018, 7:30 PM ET
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
TV: YES Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia