Brooklyn’s playoff buzz proved to be short-lived. After shocking the Philadelphia 76ers in last weekend’s series opener, the Nets have since looked seriously outclassed heading into Saturday’s fourth game (TNT, 3 p.m.).
Brooklyn was outscored 276-238 in two losses, missing the market by by 14 and 15 points, with scoring sums soaring over market Over/Unders by 44 and 17 points because of poor defense.
Even with Philly phenom Joel Embiid missing Game Three to rest his sore knee…
*Brooklyn’s defense was soft inside, allowing 52% on two points shots.
*Brooklyn couldn’t stop fouling, committing 24 personals and putting the Sixers on the free throw line for a 30-35 performance. Fouling to avoid giving up an easy bucket doesn’t do much good against Philadelphia.
*Brooklyn was bullied in the boards, getting outrebounded 54-43 (after losing that stat 50-45 and 49-32 in the games Embiid played).
Philadelphia fell in the series opener largely because of a horrific 3 of 25 performance on three pointers. The Sixers were a more respectable 9 of 23 in the bounce back, then 11 of 27 Thursday to retake home court advantage. That’s 20 of 50 in the last two games, exactly 40% (which is the same as 60% on deuces).
If you’re considering betting Brooklyn as a short home dog in Saturday’s “backs to the wall” scenario, consider the following:
*The Nets can’t force the Sixers into an uncomfortable pace. Both teams like to run. Pace factor flew up to 107 possessions per team with Embiid out (after 99 and 103 in the first two games). Any attempt to slow things down into a more classic playoff style would just exacerbate Brooklyn’s inside disadvantages.
*The Nets can’t afford to miss many treys because of their rebounding woes. Missed treys are virtual turnovers. In Game Two, Brooklyn committed 14 turnovers and missed 21 treys. In Game Three, Brooklyn committed 15 turnovers and missed 31 treys.
All that’s left is to shoot lights out from long range while hoping the Sixers have another 3 of 25 debacle.
Sharps (professional bettors) respect “percentage” basketball in the postseason. They may not bet Saturday’s game until they know for sure the status of Embid. They are more likely to be on the visitor than the host come tip-off given current flow of the series.
And, they won’t be tempted to take the Nets as a dog at “series” prices. Philadelphia regained home court advantage with Thursday’s blowout. The Sixers would maintain that perk even if the Nets win Saturday.
Of course, the future’s still bright for the young Nets. Brooklyn beat the market to the tune of 45-37 against the spread during the regular season, sixth best in the whole NBA. They’re already playing with house money given preseason expectations. Everything they learn in this series will help make them a more dangerous postseason threat in the future.
And, if the Sixers take their foot off the gas…Brooklyn could still be a postseason threat in the present.
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