An optimist would say that almost everything wrong for the 76ers in their 111-102 Game 1 loss to the Brooklyn Nets and they still lost by less than double digits.
Coach Brett Brown, for one, seems to take that approach.
“None of us should expect Ben Simmons or Tobias [Harris] or JJ [Redick] to repeat what they had -- it happens,” Brown said Sunday after practice. “The first place I’ve got to look is me, and what can I do to help them.”
Those three players scored a total of 18 points, or as many as Nets reserve Spencer Dinwiddie and five fewer than fellow reserve Caris LeVert in he first game of their playoff series.
The Sixers trio attempted a total of just 23 shots, two fewer than Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Another thing that went right for the Nets was their proficiency at the free-throw line. During the regular season, the Nets were 24th in the NBA in free throw shooting (74.5 percent). But Brooklyn hit 24 of 26 free throws (92.3 percent) against the Sixers.
Jared Dudley, whose regular season free-throw percentage was 69.6 percent, hit all four in Game 1. LeVert, a 69.1 percent free-throw shooter, also hit all four. Ed Davis (61.7 percent) sank both free-throw attempts.
So three players who were shooting in the 60s combined to shoot 100 percent.
Brooklyn also limited the Sixers to 3-for-25 three-point shooting (12 percent). The Nets played good D, but the Sixers missed their share of open threes. Brooklyn was the third-best team in the regular season in three-point shooting defense at 34.1 percent, but holding the Sixers nearly three times lower than the regular-season average was impressive.
One other player who well exceeded his regular-season statistics was Davis, the backup center who had to play 25:07 after starter Jarrett Allen got in early foul trouble.
Davis averaged 5.8 points and 8.6 rebounds during the regular season. Against the Sixers, he had 12 points and 16 rebounds and more than held his own while playing against Joel Embiid.
Davis also suffered a sprained ankle but continued to play. He is listed as questionable on the NBA injury report.
While LeVert, Dinwiddie, and Russell naturally were the headliners in Game 1, Davis was incredibly effective and was a game-high plus-28.
The Nets have to wonder if they can again limit those three Sixers starters, continue their free-throw shooting excellence, watch the Sixers self-destruct again from the three-point line and have Davis play over his head one more time.