Quotebook | Focus Shifts to Second Round

by Lauren Rosen

It began with a 14-0 run, and ended with a ticket to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Tuesday’s Game 5 brought a wire-to-wire, 122-100 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, leaving the 76ers in high spirits as they advanced to Round 2 of the playoffs to face the Toronto Raptors.

Here’s some of what was said after the close-out win...

After establishing a commanding 23-2 advantage in the first nine minutes of play, the Sixers went into halftime up 60-31. JJ Redick (11 pts, 2 ast) said that the early surge showed some of his team’s best work to date:

“Maybe the best that we’ve defended all season, given the problems that they present for our team. The first half was as good as you can guard. We altered the game plan after Game 1, and then we just fine-tuned that for four games. We came out and played with a ton of intensity, force, and physicality.”

Game 5 marked the Sixers’ fourth straight victory, and prevented the team from having to make a trip back to Brooklyn. Following the decisive win, Tobias Harris (12 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl) echoed Redick’s sentiments:

“I think our start really dictated the whole pace of the game. We said it after the last game--we get out to a good start, really kill their momentum, kill their vibe all-around. I thought the start to this game was impactful, it was powerful for us. When we talk about imposing our will, that was a sound example of that.”

Jimmy Butler (9 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl) said that when it came to defense, his team stuck to its gameplan. The squad held Brooklyn to just 26.1% shooting in the first half, and 38.7% overall. Looking ahead, Butler hopes there’s carryover to the Sixers’ upcoming second-round matchup versus Toronto:

“It feels good to close them out obviously, get onto the next round, hopefully we play like that every quarter. It’s special to be able to do it in the playoffs with this group of guys. We talked about coming in and playing some hard-nosed defense, we did it on our home floor. We got out to an early lead, and we didn’t give this one up.”

Looking back at the series, and his team’s second consecutive first-round series win, Ben Simmons (13 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast) credited the group’s unwavering physicality as the series progressed:

“I think intensity-wise, and physicality, I think our team was physical the whole time, besides the first game. I think we did a good job of that, so I think we need to take that over to Toronto.”

As the playoffs continue, and the Sixers shift their focus North, the team maintains lofty ambitions. Joel Embiid (23 pts, 13 reb, 2 ast) told reporters the team seeks a championship. Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson thinks it’s possible:

“It’s a hell of a team. They’re going for big things, and I think they can compete for a championship, quite honestly. But like I said, tremendous respect for that group over there.”

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal battle between the Sixers and Toronto Raptors starts Saturday. Tip time remains TBD.


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