At Home, a Chance to Advance

by Lauren Rosen

 

The 76ers return to South Philadelphia for Game 5 of their first-round duel with the Brooklyn Nets with a 3-1 lead and a singular mission -- to close out the series.

Ben Simmons, who has emerged as a dominant force in the series, says he knows what it will take to punctuate the battle with a fourth-straight win.

“You’ve got to keep the same mentality as the last few games that we’ve played,” Simmons said at Monday’s practice. “I think we’ve done a good job, defensively and offensively, of executing the game plan, so we’ve got to stick with it.”

The Sixers showed grit in Saturday’s Game 4, notching a 112-108 comeback victory behind Joel Embiid’s 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, six block, and two steals. Mike Scott provided late-game heroics with a clinching 3-pointer.

“We’ve got to close it out [Tuesday] night,” said Embiid, listed as probable (left knee) for Game 5. “We don’t want to go back to Brooklyn, so we’ve got to do whatever’s necessary to close it out.”

As the Sixers continue to develop their identity, one quality remains clear -- Embiid’s role is paramount to the team’s success.

“We think Joel is the anchor on both sides of the ball,” JJ Redick said Monday.

In his three appearances in the series, Embiid has averaged 25.3 points and 13.6 boards per game.

Another key to the Sixers’ recent success against the Nets has been the matchup between first-time All-Stars Simmons and D’Angelo Russell.

Russell has shot 35.9% from the field in the series when Simmons has been on the court, and 47.8% with Simmons on the bench.

“[I’m] just trying to keep the ball out of his hands, making it tough on him, forcing him right, and showing him a hand when he’s getting shots up,” Simmons said.

Simmons’ has left fingerprints all over the series, including a particularly authoritative Game 3 that resulted in 31 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three blocks, and two steals.

At Monday’s practice, the Sixers focused on their growing chemistry as the playoffs progress.

“We love playing with each other, we love being around each other, we feel like we have a chance to accomplish something,” Embiid said.

The next step in finding that special something? Closing out the Brooklyn series  at home.

“We know what to expect,” Simmons said. “We’ve played this team a few times. It’s just going to be one of those games where we’ve got to stay tough.”

Game 5 tips at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Follow Along:

Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network

Video: TNT / NBC Sports Philadelphia / NBC Sports MyTeams app

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