Drama reigns supreme in first round of NBA playoffs

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

The Philadelphia 76ers. The Brooklyn Nets. The 76ers have had an up and down season thus far, and more internal drama than they would’ve liked. The Nets weren’t high on many people’s watch list during the NBA regular season, but they have become must-watch TV this postseason.

People would rather tune in to watch the Warriors, who aren’t quite as good as they were a couple of seasons again when they seemed unbeatable but led by one of the greatest in the game, Kevin Durant, and the best shooter, arguably, of all time in Steph Curry. Or maybe people would have preferred to watch the Lakers, who even though they weren’t good were led by LeBron James, the heir apparent to Michael Jordan.

This year’s NBA playoffs haven’t had much drama. So far, the different series are being led by who should be leading. That includes the Warriors leading the series against the Clippers, the Houston Rockets leading the Nuggets, and the Milwaukee Bucks leading the Pistons. Combined the series are 8-1 in favor of the teams with higher seed. The majority of these games haven’t even been close either.

However, this series between the 76ers and the Nets is something different. Yes, the series is 3-1 in favor of the 76ers. And yes, the 76ers are supposed to win the series. But this series is offering fans something different, something unique for today’s NBA. It’s offering excitement. It’s giving fans something to watch that they’ll actually enjoy watching.

The Nets are led by point guard D’Angelo Russell. The same Russell that a few seasons ago was traded after some LA drama. After Russell, it is a team full of mostly average players. They have found a way to play within Coach Kenny Atkinson’s system and had enough success to secure the Eastern Conference’s six seed.

The 76ers on the other hand think they have completed “The Process.” With a starting lineup that some think can challenge even Golden State’s, many experts thought Philly could come out of the East this postseason. Injury concerns to Joel Embiid, and shooting woes from Ben Simmons have made them seem vulnerable however. This has made their first round matchup must-watch.

Brooklyn was able to steal the first game in Philadelphia, before dropping the second game. Before game three is when things really got interesting. This is when Jared Dudley started some beef.

“I think that Ben Simmons is a great player in transition. Once you slow him up in the half court, I think he’s average when it comes to that.” Dudley said in an interview with CBS Sports.

I guess Dudley forgot which one of them was the All-Star. Simmons made sure to remind him in game three. Ben Simmons dropped 31 points and 9 assists. Those are pretty good numbers for someone who is “average” in the half court. What made game three so much fun to watch however was the intense glares and trash talk that was seen throughout the matchup. Back in the day the playoffs was full of these stares and trash talk, but in the last few years this has been missing, especially in the first round.

This intensity escalated in game four. Midway through the third quarter, Dudley (again) got into it with Embiid. Embiid was smart enough to not do anything, but of course Jimmy Butler was not. Known recently for being a little hot-headed, Butler ran into the scrum and ended up getting into it with Dudley himself. After those two were torn apart by their teammates, they both were ejected. Not a big deal for Brooklyn, but an issue for Philly. Butler is their closer. If it is a close game in the fourth, they put the ball in his hands. This is exactly the situation they found themselves in.

This game was tightly contested until the final seconds. Philly was without their closer, but Brooklyn had theirs. Russell kept his team in the game scoring points when needed and getting others the ball when they were open. Big advantage Brooklyn. I guess someone forgot to tell Mike Scott that Philly didn’t have a closer. With twenty seconds left and Philly down one point, Scott found his clutch-gene and hit a game winning three-pointer. The Nets’ next possession ended quickly when Jarrett Allen turned the ball over. That was the end of Brooklyn’s hopes in game three.

Game five will be held in Philadelphia, and with the 76ers leading the series 3-1, it seems most likely that it will end on Tuesday night. However, with the amount of drama surrounding this series, I will be glued to the TV Tuesday night until the final buzzer sounds.