Embiid, Harden spark 76ers over Nets in playoff opener – rezal404
WASHINGTON – Joel Embiid scored 26 points and James Harden added 23 to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Brooklyn Nets 121-101 in an NBA first-round playoff series opener on Saturday.
The host Sixers, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage, dropped a club playoff record 21 3-pointers in 43 attempts to sixteen a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven opening series, which continues Monday in Philadelphia.
“(That) was a good win for us,” Harden said. “We’ll be watching movies. Game two is going to be the toughest game of the series for us. We’ll be ready to go.”
Embiid, the NBA season scoring leader with 33.1 points a game, was often double-teamed defensively by the Nets but effectively brought teammates into scoring positions.
The Cameroonian 7-footer (2.13m) went 7-of-15 from the floor but was 11-of-11 from the free throw line and contributed five rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
NBA season assists leader Harden, who hit 7-of-13 from 3-point range, made 13 assists. He became the first player in 76ers history with 20 points, 10 assists and five 3-pointers in one contest.
He also helped eight sixers in all to make 3-pointers.
“Just finding ways to impact the game possession by possession,” said Harden, a former Nets backcourt star.
“It’s the playoffs. Things don’t go the way you want as much as you want them to. You’ve got to keep pushing, keeping fighting, and I’m happy we got a win.”
In the times the Nets stifled Embiid, Harden picked them apart with inside moves, skilled shotmaking and precision passing.
“I’ve been doing it for a very, very long time at the highest level so it’s pretty easy,” Harden said. “As long as I get into the paint and create good shots, I’m doing my job. Most of the time my teammates are making the shots.”
Philadelphia made a club one-half playoff record of 13 3-pointers on the way to a 67-58 halftime edge.
While excited at the triumph, Harden tried to keep a perspective on the first step in a two-month playoff chase for the championship.
“Stay even keel,” he said. “There are going to be some good moments, some low moments. You win a game. You lose a game. Stay even keel and look at the bigger picture.”
Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges scored a game-high 30 points, but only seven in the second half.
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