The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers have been scratching and clawing for sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s number one seed all season. On Wednesday the two conference powerhouses met for one final time this season.
The Sixers were able to defeat the Nets 123-117 in their final matchup of the regular season with Brooklyn.
What was originally viewed as one of the biggest blockbuster matchups of the season quickly turned into a glorified exhibition match.
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Rivers Says Sixers Will Be Ready For Nets in the Playoffs
While Philadelphia had both of their stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Brooklyn was without much of their regular rotation. Most notably Kevin Durant and James Harden, who are trying to nurse the health of their recently injured hamstrings.
While Sixers’ head coach Doc Rivers was pleased with his team’s win, he acknowledges that when the Nets are fully healthy, they will be an entirely different beast to deal with.
“When the playoffs start, it’s a whole new beast,” Rivers said via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“We’ll be ready for them, and I’m sure they’ll be ready for us.”
"When the playoffs start, it's a whole new beast. We'll be ready for them, and I'm sure they'll be ready for us." -Doc Rivers
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 15, 2021
Rivers Understands the Value of Being Prepared
If anyone knows the importance of being prepared for the playoffs it would be Doc Rivers. Last year during his final season with the Los Angeles Clippers, his team suffered one of the most disappointing playoff exits in recent memory.
After acquiring All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during 2019 NBA free agency the Clippers were favored by many to win the 2020 NBA Finals.
After struggling to get out of the first round against, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks the Clippers road did not get any easier, running into a very young and hungry Denver Nuggets squad.
The Clippers led the series 3-1 but failed to close the door on the series leaving hope for the Nuggets. Denver would storm back and win the series 4-3 leaving Doc Rivers and his Clippers squad stunned.
Sixers & Nets Have Had War of Words All Season
The Sixers have not minced words about the Brooklyn Nets all year. Before Wednesday’s matchup Sixers star, Ben Simmons had some strong words about the Nets and their star power. He insisted that Brooklyn is not their focus but rather the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
“We’re going for the past champs, the Lakers,” Simmons told reporters after a recent win over the Dallas Mavericks via CBS Sports.
“They were the ones who won a championship, so you got to give the respect to them. Obviously, Brooklyn has a lot of talent. But at the end of the day, there’s only one ball and you got to play defense, too.”
Nets’ reserve Bruce Brown had some strong words of his own about a potential first-round matchup with the Sixers. Despite Brooklyn’s loss, he is encouraged by the fight that the team put up with such a depleted roster.
“You seen what happened today, and we didn’t have (KD, James, Blake, LaMarcus) with us,” Brown said via Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
Bruce Brown says the Nets are "super confident" they can win a game in Philly if the Sixers take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs: "You seen what happened today, and we didn't have (KD, James, Blake, LaMarcus) with us."
s/o @ajayibrowne for the question
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) April 15, 2021
The Nets and Sixers have a budding rivalry on their hands. If these two teams do meet in the playoffs, fireworks will be expected to fly.