Joel Embiid Sends Message on Mikal Bridges After Sixers Take Game 1 From Nets

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets.

For a while, it seemed like the Brooklyn Nets would be able to keep things close with the Philadelphia 76ers thanks in no small part to Mikal Bridges’ 23 first-half points.

“We let him get comfortable,” Sixers star Joel Embiid told reporters during his postgame press conference on on April 15. “Everything he was getting he was getting downhill. He was getting a bunch of pull-up jumpers. It’s not easy being the star, being the main guy. So, once we saw that, we just doubled him, got the ball out of his hands and it worked out pretty well for us.”

Brooklyn went into the break facing a nine-point deficit but things changed after the break as Bridges could muster just seven points on two attempts from the field. It was not all him with no Nets cracking double-digits in the final 24 minutes of play.

“Bridges was destroying us,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said during his postgame availability. “The first half for him, it was like being on the beach…Second half, we double-teamed him a lot more. We got the ball out of his hands, and I thought that was effective.

“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.”

For his part, Bridges took little consolation in his success, instead focusing on the final result.

“None of that sh*t matters when you lose,” Bridges said in a video shared via Erik Slater of Clutch Points. “It feels good to make some shots, but I’d rather miss shots and win, so it’s whatever.”

Mikal Bridges on Joel Embiid

“I’ve guarded guys being the No. 1 option, and a lot of times they just want to just kind of break it off and just try to do everything,” Bridges told Meghan Triplett of the YES Network prior to Game 1. “And I think that’s what teams want. As a guy that schemes on teams and being on teams that have been in the playoffs, when guys try to do it themselves it doesn’t really work out well. So just making the right play and trusting your teammates, and then after that, that’ll kind of open things up.”

Interestingly enough, Bridges spoke of the Nets’ plans to get the ball out of Embiid’s hands prior to the start of the series.

Embiid scored 14 of his 26 points after halftime including six points in the fourth quarter.

The Nets are now 0-5 against the Sixers including the regular season and appear to be facing a daunting task to break that trend.

Philadelphia led wire-to-wire, was plus-11 in the turnover margin, and a whipping plus-18 in second-chance points. They also knocked down all 16 of their attempts at the free-throw line compared to 10-of-15 for Brooklyn.

Chris Paul Sounds Off on Mikal Bridges

Bridges has credited his time learning behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker with the Phoenix Suns as preparing him for the leap that we saw following his trade at the deadline. Booker has likewise said he knew that Bridges was capable of doing this, he just needed the opportunity to prove it which he is now getting in earnest.

Paul chimed in following Bridges’ performance in his first playoff game with his new team.

“He’s shooting everything but a gun,” Bridges’ former head coach Monty Williams said, via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX_Sports. “Just call it what it is. I’ve text with him a few times, I’m like, ‘Boy you are shooting that thing! … I’m happy for him. I see him balling. That’s what I see.”