The Sixers (35-25) visited the Brooklyn Nets (24-37) on Tuesday. Philadelphia wanted to push its winning streak to three games. Brooklyn wanted to rebound from Monday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sixers took their foot off the gas multiple times, allowing the Nets to crawl back and steal one from Philadelphia, 112-107.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure on the meniscus in his left knee. Tyrese Maxey is in the NBA's concussion protocol and was out.

De'Anthony Melton has a stress response in his lumbar spine bone and was not available. Robert Covington remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Nick Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Cameron Payne, Buddy Hield, Tobias Harris, and Mo Bamba.

The Nets were without the services of Cam Thomas, who has a sprained right ankle and midfoot.

Day'Ron Sharpe has a right wrist contusion and was not available. Ben Simmons was out with a nerve impingement in his left lower back.

Dariq Whitehead missed the game with a stress reaction in his left shin.

Jaylen Martin, Jacob Gilyard, and Keon Johnson are on two-way assignments with Brooklyn's G League affiliate and were not available.

Kevin Ollie started Dennis Schroder, Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Nic Claxton.


- The difference between these teams through the first 24 minutes was the battle on paper. Sure, the Sixers were extremely short-handed with Maxey a scratch just a few hours before game time. But, the Nets simply aren't good enough on either end to string together extended minutes of good play.

The top of their rotation is a collection of role players who would warrant significant rotation minutes on most teams but all overlap in the offensive skills that you would want in limited-ceiling supporting cast members. The guys below that are young and raw. That's a long-winded way of saying that there's talent on the roster, but the pieces are too similar to form a good team.

So, while the Sixers led by one at halftime, they were clearly the better team in the first half. While a contingent of the Philadelphia faithful still interested in the team chalked up a loss when Maxey was ruled out, it was entirely conceivable that the Sixers would have more than a puncher's chance of winning the game because they still had the advantage in shot creation.

No one on Philadelphia's side dominated the first half. But, the Sixers put together sequences of timely shooting and coherent offense to build an advantage. No one is referring to Harris or Lowry as high-level offensive creators. But, together, and with the wild card of a good half from Kelly Oubre Jr., they had more off-the-dribble equity than the Nets did. That was all that mattered.

The Sixers generated offense from soft drive-and-kicks; two dribbles towards the interior to pull helpers in slightly, swing to the teammate one or two passes away. The shooting luck was on their side; the shots weren't necessarily very open, but they fell. Without Thomas, Brooklyn had no off-the-dribble game. Most of their offense was tunnel-vision drives or catch-and-shoot threes bred from side-to-side ball movement.

- It's pretty hard to be the go-to guy and calming presence when you are not a great shooter and adamant about finishing specifically with your left hand. But, the Sixers' best player in this game was Kelly Oubre Jr. and it wasn't particularly close. He was as methodical as he's ever been in his time with the Sixers, attacking with control and force and not forcing perimeter shots. He got to the rim at will all game long, and didn't rush if Brooklyn denied him an immediate path to a shot. Oubre's composure paid dividends, the wing even notching an assist on a beautiful bounce pass to the rim on one possession in the second half.


- Philadelphia's ability to run away with this one was largely dependent upon whether they could keep their foot on the gas on defense. They didn't need great offense on Tuesday - organized halfcourt possessions would be enough as long as the shooting was roughly average. But, just when you thought the Sixers might be pulling away, they slipped up on defense.

The most obvious sign of uncentered focus was that Philadelphia couldn't turn the water all the way off on dribble penetration. They showed that they could get those stops long enough to build an eight-point lead in the first quarter and a 14-point lead in the second quarter, but then they'd take their eyes off the prize and allow the Nets to fight back.

When Brooklyn went on those runs, it was because the Sixers allowed the Nets - especially Lonnie Walker IV - to square themselves to the basket out of diagonal penetration into the middle of the paint too easily.

The part that I blame the players for is the inconsistent physicality. There were possessions in which the Nets - who have zero playmaking - were able to barge their way into the paint, pick up their dribbles, pivot to face the basket, and squeeze off relatively uncontested jumpers. You eat up the space between yourself and the offensive player and raise your arms when they pick up their dribble; don't maintain your distance.

The part that I blame the coaching/scheme for is the shot quality the Sixers allowed on some of the Nets' pick-and-rolls. Bamba was playing below the level of ball screens and dropping, both affording Brooklyn the space to gain downhill steam and gifting ball-handlers soft spots to pull up for relatively uncontested jumpers at times. That's not a huge problem in a vacuum, as the Nets aren't very good. But, it is a problem when you're aiding their best shooters in heating up.

The Sixers (35-26) will host the Memphis Grizzlies (21-41) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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