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Philadelphia 76ers are developing chemistry and resilience in hard-fought Brooklyn Nets series

Watch Brooklyn Nets @ Philadelphia 76ers Game 5 live on Sky Sports Arena in the early hours of Wednesday morning

Brian Seltzer, sixers.com

Tuesday 23 April 2019 23:28, UK

Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons share a chest-bump during the 76ers' Game 2 win over Brooklyn
Image: Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons share a chest-bump during the 76ers' Game 2 win over Brooklyn

A hard-fought first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets is enabling Philadelphia to forge team chemistry and resiliency, says 76ers Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons.

Live NBA: Brooklyn @ Philadelphia

Tuesday night's playoff games

  • Orlando Magic @ Toronto Raptors - Game 5, 12am
  • Brooklyn Nets @ Philadelphia 76ers - Game 5, 1am, live on Sky Sports Arena
  • San Antonio Spurs @ Denver Nuggets - Game 5, 2:30am
  • Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers - Game 5, 3:30am
Playoff Picture: How things stand

Playoff Picture: How things stand

How do the eight first-round playoff series currently stand?

Weeks, a difference they have been known to make. Call that a cliche and slap it on the 76ers. It wasn't all that long ago that outside sentiment surrounding the squad erred towards uncertainty.

After a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, there appeared to be more questions than immediate answers surrounding the Sixers.

Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris share congratulations during Game 3 in Brooklyn
Image: Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris share congratulations during Game 3 in Brooklyn

Chemistry, health, personnel match-ups - just how much of a fight were the Sixers going to be in for against their Atlantic Division rivals?

Three games later, there's little doubt about two things - the best-of-seven game series has indeed been a fight, but the Sixers have shown that amid a variety of circumstances, they can adapt and succeed.

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Game 2, there was the half-time speech that lit the spark for a historic third quarter. End result? A win.

Game 3, the backup bigs and a host of others rose to the occasion. Win.

Game 4, with emotions simmering, the Sixers stood tall, and their All-Star centrepiece led a determined finish. Another win.

Head coach Kenny Atkinson and Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets hold back Jared Dudley at Barclays Center after a foul by Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in the third quarter 2:24
Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler were ejected for their parts played in a heated argument, reacting to a Joel Embiid foul

Now, with the chance looming to put Brooklyn away for good, the Sixers - while certainly not a finished product - look like a club that is coming together while rallying in the face of adversity.

According to basketballreference.com, the Sixers only held the lead in Game 4 for four minutes. The contest was tied for another three and a half minutes. The rest of the time, Brooklyn was in front.

Still, the Sixers prevailed. Behind Joel Embiid, who was listed as doubtful heading into the game yet managed to log heavy minutes down the stretch, the team clamped down and generated enough stops for the offense to make inroads.

Mike Scott then put the Sixers over the top, earning a 3-1 lead to take back to Philly.

Tobias Harris celebrates a basket during the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 3 win over the Brooklyn Nets
Image: Tobias Harris celebrates a basket during the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 3 win over the Brooklyn Nets

"Listen, at the point we're at right now, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of the chemistry, was a slow start from the beginning, but we had different line-ups that got out there and kept the game in reach," said starting forward Tobias Harris.

"Third and fourth quarter and the bottom of the fourth quarter were when we really were able to come together and figure out where we wanted to go to get efficient buckets and to play."

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"We knew we had to step up a little bit more and take over," said point guard Ben Simmons. "I think everybody just did their job… everybody came together and did something to contribute."

The Sixers closed Game 4 by scoring eight of the game's final 10 points in the last five minutes of regulation.

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers calls out a play in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on April 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 112-108. 2:03
Joel Embiid scored 31 points to help the 76ers to a 112-108 Game 4 win against Brooklyn that puts Philadelphia 3-1 up in the playoff series

Persevering in such a pressure-packed situation only figures to bring a relatively inexperienced group closer together.

Of course, skilled individuals and collective talent are necessary to win at this stage of the year. But for as much discussion as there was at the outset of the first round over chemistry, it's worth revisiting the importance of intangibles, and that, for the Sixers, they seem to be moving in the right direction.

One game away for advancing to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the club has a different swagger than they did a few days ago.

Ben Simmons throws down a two-handed dunk in Philadelphia's Game 3 win over Brooklyn 2:00
Ben Simmons scored a playoff-career-high 31 points and handed out nine assists after Joel Embiid was scratched before Game 2 due to left knee soreness

That's a nice development in not a lot of time.

"I think chemistry's just flowed, kind of," said Simmons. "The way everyone's playing has kind of gotten into a nice flow, and understanding how we play with each other and playing hard."

"We've got to go back home and close this thing out," Harris said. "I thought you saw a resilient team in both games - Game 3 without Joel, and then with Joel in our line-up.

"Being able to fight through it and get stops at the end of the fourth quarter was a resilient team. That's who we have to be."

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