PHILADELPHIA — The Nets wanted to throw the seedings out the window in their first-round matchup against the 76ers, but Philadelphia showed Saturday why they are considered Eastern Conference contenders and the Nets distinct underdogs — even if head coach Jacque Vaughn refuses to use the word.
After a first half in which the Nets hung tough, thanks largely to the play of Mikal Bridges, the quality of the third-seeded 76ers’ roster took over as the game wore on in a 121-101 win in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
Even with the sixth-seeded Nets red-hot from the floor, they couldn’t match Joel Embiid and James Harden — despite a game-high 30 points from Bridges.
Embiid ended up with 26 points and Harden had 23 points and 13 assists.
What was a six-point deficit late in the second quarter grew nine by the half and the Sixers pulled away in the fourth quarter.
After winning all four meetings between the two teams this season, the 76ers showed again why they are expected to have little trouble with the Nets, who played well after the departures of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but are now without any All-Stars.