“The stat sheet kind of paints a picture,” Johnson said during his postgame media availability via YES Network on YouTube on April 15. “We made shots when we needed to but too high of turnovers, too many offensive rebounds, and shot discrepancy is a big difference in that game.”
As Johnson detailed earlier in the media session, the Nets had 19 fewer field goal attempts, made eight fewer made three-pointers – giving up a Sixers franchise playoff record 21 triples in the process – and gave up nine more offensive rebounds than they were able to haul in themselves.
“I thought we were getting to our spots, getting shots we wanted,” Johnson said. “Maybe playing late in the shot clock a little too much. But we need to get stops so we can get out and run and play with pace. Anytime you’re letting up offensive rebounds and their scoring the ball at a high rate, we’re playing against a set defense chewing time off the clock. So those are just areas we need to improve in. The good thing about it is it’s a series. We’ll go back and adjust and make the changes we need to.”
Johnson finished with 18 points on 63.6% shooting, knocking down 4-of-6 threes while adding four rebounds and two assists.
Brooklyn was the more efficient team overall, shooting 55.7% from the floor overall compared to 48.2% for Philadelphia. But, to Johnson’s point, the 76ers simply won on volume thanks to extra possessions.
Nets Suffer From a Familiar Downfall
It would be easy to pin the Nets’ rebounding issues on big man Nic Claxton, whose slight frame does him no favors against a nearly 300-pound Embiid. But it’s not all on him because of how the Nets schemed for this game.
“When you’re doubling and rotating a lot, it becomes a little bit harder to box out,” Johnson said. “So we just have to have a continued high attention to guys crashing, putting bodies on them. Because it’s physical. It’s physical, and sometimes guys are coming in clear and you just got to take a hit, give a hit, whatever it is.”
Johnson took it a step further, (inadvertently) absolving Claxton from full blame for the discrepancy.
Cameron Johnson Highlights P.J. Tucker, Paul Reed
“Definitely an area I can be better in for sure,” Johnson said of the Nets’ getting outworked for the offensive rebounds. “P.J. [Tucker] kind of just lingers around in that dunker spot and you’re ready to rotate and next thing you know he’s right upside you. So definitely an area for improvement.”
Tucker, one of the NBA’s best glue guys, finished with six points on 33.3% shooting. But he was 2-for-5 on threes (40%) adding seven rebounds with five coming on the offensive glass, five steals, and two assists helping him finish as a plus-11 on the night.
And when it wasn’t Embiid or Tucker, it was reserve big man Paul Reed who tallied 11 points to go with four rebounds (two offensive).
“Just a different look than Joel,” said Johnson. “He’s sitting, same thing [as Tucker], in the dunker [spot]. Break down the point-of-attack defender, draw the help, and give it to him for dump-offs. But he’s an energy guy, high offensive rebounder. So we just got to be a little more alert for what he does in the game.”
Game 2 is set for April 17 in Philadelphia at 7:30 ET.