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Shorthanded 76ers Find Success vs. Nets on Tuesday Night

The Philadelphia 76ers took care of business at home on Tuesday night despite being shorthanded.

Going into Tuesday night’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, the circumstances couldn’t have been worse for the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Monday afternoon, the team got word that their All-Star center Joel Embiid would miss the Brooklyn matchup due to a foot sprain he suffered over the weekend in the matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Embiid joined the likings of the young veteran guard Tyrese Maxey and the All-Star James Harden. Although Tobias Harris was set to return to the lineup after missing the last two games, his hip issue would likely cause the veteran forward to be less than one hundred percent against the Nets.

In the first quarter of the first installment of the Brooklyn-Philly regular season series, the Nets got off to a quick start by firing off with an eight-point lead out of the gate. But the shorthanded Sixers weren’t backing down.

“I just thought we had nerves early,” said Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. “Honestly, you could see it. That’s why I called the early timeout. You can just see it. They came out on the attack. We could kind of feel the game and a lot of our guys not being in that situation. After we called the timeout and got back to playing, I thought we were good.” 

Taking 12 more shots from the field, and five more threes than the Nets, the Sixers ended up outscoring Brooklyn 33-26 through the first quarter of action.

In the second quarter, the Nets hit back by taking just as many shots on the offensive end and shooting much better by hitting on nearly 60 percent of their shots from the field. Despite trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Nets had the game within a single-digit reach going into halftime. 

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Considering the Sixers’ lack of depth, and Brooklyn’s star power, one would expect the Nets to pull away in the third quarter. The Sixers’ shooting at the beginning of the second half certainly wasn’t efficient, but the Nets struggled to stay out in front when they snagged a lead. With six lead changes in the third quarter, Brooklyn never led by more than two points. Going into the final quarter, the Sixers had an 85-82 advantage over Brooklyn.

“We were fighting for one another,” said Tobias Harris. "Over and over, we wanted to attack what was working for us. When I came back out … I just felt the energy from my teammates that wanted to get me going and wanted me to take over and be aggressive and get to my spots out there.”

A stellar fourth-quarter effort from the hobbled Tobias Harris helped lead the Sixers to an unlikely victory. Harris added ten of his fourth-quarter points to his 24-point total in 33 minutes of action.

The Sixers had four other players notch double-digits as De’Anthony Melton, Shake Milton, Georges Niang, and Paul Reed produced their fair share of points in the 115-106 victory over their Atlantic Division rival, the Nets.

With the shorthanded win, Philadelphia stunned Brooklyn after many assumed the absent star trio of Embiid, Maxey, and Harden would be more than enough for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons to take care of business on the road. 

"There was so much talk about the game and what was going to happen instead of the basketball part," Rivers said. "We had two days, and you can tell our guys wanted to win the game. They really wanted to win the game, and that was what was on their mind."

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.