By Christopher Kline
The Philadelphia 76ers flipped the switch in an important win over the Brooklyn Nets.
After two disappointing losses in Atlanta and Orlando, the Philadelphia 76ers returned to form in a pivotal moment against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. Joel Embiid donned a new headband and exploded for 39 points and 13 rebounds, asserting the Sixers’ dominance on a division rival.
The win gave the Sixers a three-game lead over the fourth-place Indiana Pacers. They’re now four games in front of Boston, to boot. That alone has significance, as the Sixers would be hard-pressed to lose homecourt advantage in round one. It also keeps their advantage over Boston for a potential conference finals showdown.
Perhaps the most notable development, however, was the sixth-seed occupant. In losing, the Nets dropped from sixth to seventh, now a half-game behind Detroit. While there’s ample time for that to flip, the Sixers would presumably like to avoid Brooklyn in the first round.
With recent additions to the roster, the Sixers — at their peak — are too talented to have significant concerns about Brooklyn. The Nets have given them trouble all season, though, coupling a dynamic pick-and-roll attack with effective small-ball...