The Brooklyn Nets’ season ended unceremoniously last Saturday with another playoff sweep.
The Eastern Conference’s No. 6 seed lost to the No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers by 96–88 in Game 4 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series after losing 102–97 in Game 3 two days earlier. The Sixers played the close-out game without four-time All-NBA center Joel Embiid, who according to a report by ESPN on Monday has a sprained LCL in his right knee.
It is the second consecutive season that Brooklyn lost 4–0 in the playoffs in the opening round. They were eliminated by the Boston Celtics last April. Going back to the 2020-21 season, the Nets have now lost 10 playoff games in a row.
The task ahead is reshaping the roster, which will be led by general manager Sean Marks. The Nets are likely to be highly active and aggressive this summer through trades and/or free agency to add size, rebounding, perimeter shooting, and shot creators.
They were abused 54–38 on the glass in Game 4 and scored more than 100 points just once— Game 1—in the series.
“We’ve got to get bigger over the summer,” said Nets head coach Jacque after his team’s exit. “We’ve got to get nasty over the summer. We’ve got to get guys who really love hitting, and take it personal when the other team gets a rebound. That’s what we’ll be looking for.”
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Although Nets starting center Nic Claxton had 19 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4 after being ejected in the fourth quarter of Game 3 for being assessed a second technical foul, 76ers backup center Paul Reed had a game-high 15 rebounds to go with 10 points and was clearly the tougher player. Forward Tobias Harris, a native of Islip (Long Island) and the 2010 Mr. New York Basketball award winner playing for Half Hollows Hills West, topped the Sixers with 25 points.
Nets starting small forward Mikal Bridges, who led the league in minutes played in the regular season, had nothing left in Game 4, shooting 6–18 for 17 points. The Nets had no offensive attack other than isolation plays for Bridges. Philadelphia exploited their lack of effective multiple threats and loaded up on Bridges, forcing others to try to make plays. Brooklyn’s inefficient three-point shooting was a detriment—they hit just 34% of their attempts. Still, Vaughn was encouraged and optimistic about the franchise’s future.
“I told them they should feel extremely proud when they walk around the borough of Brooklyn. The way that we competed, we didn’t make excuses this year,” he said. “We figured out how to stay together. That locker room was together even until the end of the game.”
Nets starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who had a team-high 20 points in Game 4, had a slightly different take than his coach. “My grandmother said that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so I don’t know if anybody’s in here for moral victories,” he said. “But we go into the offseason now. We’re gonna have [exit] meetings and see what else unfolds. We’re a team that’s in a lot of transition and we’ll see what happens next.”