Mon, Apr 15, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Sixers, Raptors stunned in opening playoff upsets


The Sixers’ Joel Embiid, center, tries to get a shot off against the Brooklyn Nets in their NBA playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

The Brooklyn Nets on Saturday downed the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors were left spellbound by the Orlando Magic as the NBA’s playoffs got under way with a pair of upset defeats.

D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points as sixth-seeded Brooklyn jolted third-seeded Philadelphia 111-102 at the Wells Fargo Center to give the Nets a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Nets were also reliant on a big performance from their bench, with three players delivering double-digit displays to boost their offense.

Caris LeVert had 23 points, while Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 and Ed Davis 12 as the Nets silenced the Sixers’ home crowd.

Jimmy Butler led the scoring for the Sixers with a playoff career-high 36 points, while ailing Joel Embiid had 22 points.

However, it was a disappointing outing for Australian star Ben Simmons, who was confined to just nine points for Philadelphia.

Despite left knee soreness, Embiid — who missed 14 of the team’s final 24 games — was cleared to play less than 10 minutes before the game, but he looked hampered by his injury.

Afterward, Embiid expressed dismay at Sixers fans who booed the home team as they slid to a disappointing loss.

“The fact that it’s after every single miss,” he said. “Every missed shot, then you get booed. You get the next one and you think: ‘Should I shoot it or not, because I’m about to get booed?’”

However, teammate Simmons risked the wrath of Philadelphia supporters by lashing fans who booed.

“If you’re going to boo, then stay on that side,” Simmons said. “That’s how I feel. If you’re a Sixers’ fan and you’re going to boo, then stay on that side.”

However, Butler said the Sixers could only remedy the fan response by delivering a win in Game two of the series in Philadelphia today.

“They want to see us win. I want to see us win, too,” Butler said. “We just have to do better. I guarantee that if we’re winning, they’re not booing. That’s how we change it. Just got to go out there and win on Monday.”

In the day’s other Eastern Conference match-up, the Toronto Raptors were left ruing missed chances after crashing to a 104-101 loss to the Orlando Magic at the Scotiabank Arena.

D.J. Augustin was the hero for Orlando, draining a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds to play to seal a famous win for the seventh-seeded Magic, who finished the regular season with 16 fewer wins than Toronto.

Augustin’s winner gives Orlando their first lead in a playoff series since 2012, and will reawaken the doubts surrounding Toronto’s playoff mentality following consecutive sweeps by Cleveland in 2017 and last year.

Magic coach Steve Clifford praised his team’s dogged never-say-die approach.

“Just the fight and way we hung in there,” Clifford said afterward. “I thought our defense was very good for most of the game. Even when things went against us, we hung in there.”

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