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NY Post
New York Post
8 Apr 2023


NextImg:Nets trying to shift reputation in playoffs without any true superstars

Unlike the 76ers, their slated first-round playoff opponents, the Nets don’t have any superstars or household names on their roster.

Since his return to  Brooklyn in the Kyrie Irving trade, Spencer Dinwiddie has talked about how he feels the Nets are treated differently by officials because of their lack of star power.

The 76ers have two superstars: MVP candidate Joel Embiid and former Net James Harden. And though nothing that happens over the coming weeks will put Mikal Bridges into that conversation, the Nets’ status could change this postseason, according to Dinwiddie — especially if Bridges continues to play as he has the past two months.

“I’m not going to lie to you, reputation does matter,’’ Dinwiddie said of the playoffs. “I’ve spoken about this a lot: that last six-minute stretch of games on the margin, bang-bang calls. Things like that, we’re not going to get them. But at the same time, reputations are typically made in the playoffs, right? So you know if Mikal keeps playing at the level he is, he’ll be considered a star at the end of this thing — especially if we can advance or do anything special.’’

Bridges has emerged as the Nets’ top scorer after playing as a role player for the Suns.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

To do something special, the Nets will need Bridges to maintain his standout performance with the team: He has averaged 27.2 points per game since arriving from Phoenix in the deal that sent Kevin Durant west. Dinwiddie is confident Bridges is up to the task of delivering in the playoffs.

“I think we have a guy who has the ability to play at that level,’’ Dinwiddie said.

Spencer Dinwiddie believes that Mikal Bridges will deliver for the Nets in the postseason.

Spencer Dinwiddie believes that Mikal Bridges will deliver for the Nets in the postseason.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

The Nets and Sixers will be in an unusual situation Sunday, facing each other with nothing to play for before they meet in the first playoff round.

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said his team will “have a conversation” about playing time for the starters, but noted “each team obviously wants to go into the playoffs being whole and healthy. That’s the goal for this group, definitely.”

And Vaughn also knows that neither team will give anything away, strategy-wise, on Sunday that would impact the series.

“I don’t think either team is going to put any new plays that they’ll use in a series in, for sure,’’ Vaughn said. “We’ll be pretty bland, but we do what we do. And we’ll play hard when we get the opportunity to play them in a series. We’ll keep it that simple.”