Nets Issued Major Props to Sixers' Joel Embiid Following Thursday's Battle
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- With the series at 1-2 against Philadelphia for the 2019-2020 season, the Brooklyn Nets were looking to even the playing field against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. It wasn't going to be easy for them considering the circumstances.
For one, Brooklyn just found out their superstar point guard Kyrie Irving was going to miss the rest of the season as he chose to schedule surgery on his injured shoulder. The second reason being the Nets were well-aware of how good the Sixers are at home.
Back in January, the Nets visited the 76ers with Irving in the lineup, and they took an eleven-point loss. This time around, the Nets were not only short-handed, but they also had to face the Sixers, who had their All-Star big man Joel Embiid available to play as well.
Before Thursday's game, Nets' head coach Kenny Atkinson described it as a "nightmare matchup" because Embiid was involved this time around. And after seeing the results of the game, the Nets' leader wasn't kidding. While Brooklyn put up a fight and fought until overtime, Embiid was indeed a nightmare for Brooklyn -- and there was nothing negative they could say about the Sixers' big man following that game.
In 41 total minutes of play, Embiid accounted for 39 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots. Although Brooklyn's plan to double-team Embiid worked a little early on, the Sixers' All-Star figured out a way to dominate on both sides of the ball throughout the entire battle -- especially late in the game when it mattered most.
Afterward, several Nets issued Embiid his props as his performance was undeniably great. "He's definitely one of the best rim protectors in the league," said Nets' starting guard, Caris LeVert. "Not even him blocking shots all the time, just his presence. I've just got to be better -- we've got to be better as a team attacking him."
Kenny Atkinson echoed a similar sentiment as LeVert, stating the Sixers had a "great strategy" and made it "really tough" on the Nets' two stars in LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. While Brooklyn tried to counter the Sixers' big lineup by going with a small-ball gameplan, they quickly saw a "trade-off" as Brooklyn couldn't handle Embiid on the other end.
"Obviously, Embiid is one of, if not, the best center in the league," Spencer Dinwiddie claimed during the postgame. "He did his job and was able to get his team the win." It was a close fight until the end, and the injury-plagued Nets team showed promise against the Sixers. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to handle the wrath of Embiid and will wrap up this season's series against Philly at 1-3.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated, You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_