Surprise: Nets roll in opener
PHILADELPHIA — D’Angelo Russell flashed some postseason magic, playing like the All-Star leader the Nets needed with 26 points, and Caris LeVert scored 23 to lead the visitors to an impressive 111-102 win Saturday over the 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The sixth-seeded Nets turned Philly in the city of
20,000 boos — and that’s just counting the ones echoing throughout the Wells Fargo Center — as they smoked a 76ers team that resembled one straight out of the early Process era.
Jimmy Butler scored 36 points and saved the 76ers, widely considered a favorite to at least reach the East semis, from losing by
25. Joel Embiid slogged his way through 24 forgettable minutes on his bum left knee. Ben Simmons was a postseason dud against Russell, his high school teammate.
Russell, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie gave the 76ers fits off the dribble, buried open looks from 3-point range, and suddenly a team that got hot late just to make the playoffs has the upperhand on the road over a
51-win team stocked with stars.
“We’ve got the right pieces to keep it going,” said Russell, who scored
19 points in the second half.
Poised for a postseason breakthrough, Russell flourished and hit a string of jumpers in the third that never let the 76ers seriously chip away at the lead. LeVert’s third 3 in the fourth made it a 16-point game and there was no looking back for one of the biggest wins since the Nets moved to Brooklyn. Russell raised his arms in celebration as he headed down the tunnel into the Nets’ locker room.
Magic 104, Raptors 101:
D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, and the Magic earned the road victory and took a 1-0 lead in the first-round series.
Aaron Gordon had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Evan Fournier scored 16 points and Jonathan Isaac had 11 as the seventhseeded Magic became the latest team to beat the Raptors in the opening game of a playoff series.
The Raptors are 2-14 in playoff openers.