The Sixers went 3-1 vs. Brooklyn last season, with a +11.3 Net Rating. The loss in January came at the expense of their two guards, Spencer Dinwiddie & D’Angelo Russell, who combined for 49 points in 46 minutes, coupled with a hot shooting night for DeMarre Carroll.
In the four matchups, most Sixers performed better vs. their season baseline, except for one:
This is the starting lineup I’d employ:
PG Russell — SF Covington
SG Levert — PG Simmons
SF Harris — SG Redick
PF Dudley — PF Chandler
C Allen — C Embiid
You’d still have a solid 2nd unit: Fultz, Shamet, Korkmaz, Saric, Muscala/Johnson.
The Nets are one of the few teams in the NBA who’s 5th-8th man is not better than the Sixers — it’s going to be tough sledding when your backups can’t gain ground.
Although he does not start, the model says Spencer Dinwiddie is the Nets most impactful player. He was pretty much a non-shooter for his first three seasons, before ramping up the volume last season, albeit on low efficiency. This season, he’s shown early-signs of improvement, connecting on 21/52 outside shots for 40.4%.
Caris LeVert is loved by FanDuel players, with his gaudy 20/4.6/4.4 splits. Unfortunately Mr. Levert is a porous defender — I think he will be matched up against Fultz, who I doubt will make them pay.
The Nets shot chart looks like the Sixers if they didn’t have Joel Embiid.
1. Playing a Slow Game Perhaps it’s counter-intuitive, but the more shots that occur in a game, the smaller the long-term variance of outcomes becomes. Brooklyn is one of the few teams where it behooves you to play their style — run & gun. This is is no issue as the Sixers have emphasized paces for a few seasons now, so expect a shootout.
2. Let A Guard Catch Fire An ironic thing about the Nets is they actually have too many players who create shots off-the-dribble, a skill the Sixers desperately need. Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell all have the ability to isolate and score in bunches, especially against a defender like Fultz. Avoid switching inferior defenders onto them and the Sixers should be able to mitigate this possibility.