D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points, Caris LeVert added 23 and the visiting Brooklyn Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 111-102 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference First Round playoff series on Saturday.
Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 18 and Ed Davis had 12 points and 16 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Nets, who competed in their first playoff game in four years after finishing the regular season at 42-40.
Jimmy Butler led the third-seeded Sixers with a career-high 36-point performance in the playoffs.
Joel Embiid had been doubtful with left knee soreness and was cleared to play less than 10 minutes before the game. Embiid, who missed 14 of the team’s final 24 games, finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds but clearly looked bothered by his injury.
The Sixers were 3-of-25 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Nets ripped off a late 12-0 run to close out the first quarter to take a 31-22 lead.
Philadelphia missed its final nine shots from the field in the quarter and appeared to be disjointed in its offensive sets. The Sixers missed all nine 3-point attempts in the first.
Early in the second quarter, LeVert knocked down a pair of threes and Brooklyn pulled ahead 37-23.
Butler kept the Sixers close with 23 points in the first half including a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Sixers trailed 62-54 at halftime as Butler scored 11 of the Sixers’ final 13 points.
Early in the third, the Sixers sliced the lead to 65-63, thanks in large part to some tenacious team defense.
At the 1:51 mark of the third quarter, Davis corralled an offensive rebound and scored to give the Nets an 89-78 advantage, but he appeared to turn an ankle and went to the locker room.
Dinwiddie’s tough driving layup pushed the Nets ahead 97-86 and LeVert followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 100-86 advantage with 8:40 remaining.
Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had a couple of turnovers several minutes later as the Sixers struggled to cut into the lead.
Simmons’ dunk eventually got the Sixers within 107-96 with 3:43 left.
Joe Harris responded with a basket in the lane and the lead went back to 13 for the Nets.