Nets Coach Jacque Vaughn Puts Sixers Star on Blast Ahead of Critical Game 2

James Harden, Joel Embiid

Getty James Harden and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid was the star of game one between the Sixers and Brooklyn Nets. Embiid, who is a finalist for this year’s Most Valuable Player award, finished the night with 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. But despite his impressive showing in the Sixers’ blowout victory in Game 1, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn says that his success was partially made possible by imbalanced officiating by the referees.

“Hopefully, they’ll be calling a travel and three seconds on the big fella next game, so I’ll look forward to that,” Vaughn said to reporters after the game 1 loss.

Nic Claxton Sounds off on Joel Embiid

Although Vaughn believes that the referees are partially responsible for Embiid’s big outing in Game 1, some other Nets players are unwilling to chalk up the loss to bad officiating. Nets starting center Nic Claxton, one of the primary defenders on Embiid in Game 1, says that he and the rest of the Nets have to be more prideful in the way that they defend the All-Star center.

“Just taking pride in defense. We just need to guard up a little bit more. The double teams are good, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to man up and get stops – or make it difficult,” Claxton said to reporters via Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

This season, Embiid has averaged 31.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in two games versus the Nets. They haven’t been able to slow the star big man down this season, so it will be interesting to see if Brooklyn can make things difficult for the MVP finalist in the series.

Doc Rivers Gets Candid About Mikal Bridges

Although Embiid had the best performance on the winning team, all the buzz after the Sixers and Nets game was about Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges. Bridges has been to the playoffs before with the Phoenix Suns, they even went to the NBA Finals in 2021. But Game 1 was his first taste of the postseason as the number one option, and the Pennsylvania native did not disappoint. Bridges finished with 30 points on a sizzling 12-18 shooting in the loss. But with this being his first playoff game as the top option, the Sixers were able to compromise the newest Nets star by sending a double-team at him. Sixers coach Doc Rivers sounded off on his team’s strategy to slow down Bridges in game 1.

“Bridges was destroying us. The first half for him, it was like being on the beach. In the second half, we double-teamed him a lot more. We got the ball out of his hands, and I thought that was effective,” Rivers said after the win.

“He had the highway in the first half. In the second half, it was a traffic jam, and that’s how he has to play. He’s too good. He’s too long, that’s the other thing…when you’re helping off of Bridges and you get back, he doesn’t even see you. He’s too long. You have to get under him and make him put the ball on the floor and I thought we did better with that.”