The Philadelphia 76ers are preparing for Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets. They will square off Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, beginning their quest for their first NBA Championship since the 1983 season. Sitting at the No. 3 seed with a record of 54-28, the 76ers have a mentality that anything but an NBA Finals victory would be considered a disappointment. Led by MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid and former MVP James Harden, the 76ers have a championship caliber team, notwithstanding the legendary coach Doc Rivers. Overall, they will hope to make quick work of a Brooklyn Nets team that is a surprise No. 6 seed.
The Brooklyn Nets traded away Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the mid-point this season, despite having one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. Although sending away two superstars seemed to initiate a rebuild, they had such a strong standing in the East that they could only drop too far in the standings. Not to mention, they still received in return some very solid players in Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Dorian Finney-Smith to go along with a hefty package of draft picks. The Nets might not be as strong as their current record says, but NBA Playoffs experience for this squad will go a long way for a team that looks to have a head-start on a rebuild. With that being said, the Nets still head into Game 1 with upset aspirations on their mind.
Fortunately for 76ers fans, an upset will not happen in Game 1, primarily due to some big numbers put up by their stars. Here are 3 bold predictions for Game 1 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
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*Stats via ESPN
Joel Embiid goes for 40 points for the Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid looks like he will be the NBA MVP this season, although it is still a hotly contested debate between him, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetotokounmpo. Regardless of the award, all three guys are surely aiming for different hardware this season. Embiid is going to start his journey to the NBA Finals on the right foot Saturday, as he is going to score 40 points in Game 1.
Embiid finished the regular season averaging a whopping 33.1 points per game, 3 points higher than any other year in his career, and the highest scoring mark in the NBA. Add that to 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists, and it is surely an MVP campaign. In the last big game of the regular season, Embiid scored 52 points against the Boston Celtics, emphasizing that he was in playoff mode. That momentum will carry into Game 1.
The 76ers big man should have his way with the Nets for most of the series. He averaged 31.5 points per game against the Nets this season, and his intensity will certainly skyrocket once the game tips. 76ers fans will be hyped after a Game 1 victory vs. the Nets where Joel Embiid goes for 40 points.
James Harden drops triple-double on the Brooklyn Nets
The biggest knock on James Harden throughout his career is his lack of playoff success. Not only has he only been to the NBA Finals once while finishing many a season short of the mark, but his individual numbers have weakened in the postseason as well. In Game 1 against the Nets, Harden will flip the script and post a triple-double to help lead the 76ers to a win.
When Harden was the focal point of the offense with the Houston Rockets, he showed he can score the ball in a number of ways. However, this style of play never advanced Houston to the NBA Finals, and proved to Harden he couldn't win as the isolation guy in a one-on-one offense. In Philadelphia, he has adapted to his role as the primary playmaker, delegating to Embiid to take on isolation possessions. Harden in turn had a very strong season, and more importantly, looks to be a part of the best team of his career.
Harden's unselfishness and commitment to his new style of play will flourish in Game 1. He will post a triple-double while the 76ers handle the Nets easily. A triple-double from Harden and 40 points from Embiid will be key in giving the 76ers a 1-0 lead in the series.
Tyrese Maxey doesn't miss a three for the 76ers
Tyrese Maxey has been another huge bright spot for Philadelphia this season. He has shown the ability to score in bunches, and he can get his own shot off from all three levels of the defense. The third-year guard averages 20.3 points per game and is a knockdown three-point shooter, and he will start the series scorching hot from outside.
Maxey is shooting 46.2% from three against the Brooklyn Nets this season, but will finish Game 1 at 100%. The entire 76ers offense will be clicking on all cylinders to start the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and Maxey will do his job as a deadeye shooter. Maxey being perfect from the three-point-line will supplement great games from Harden and Embiid and lead the 76ers to a Game 1 victory.