PHILADELPHIA — As the Nets and 76ers approached Game 5 of their first-round series Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, both teams were mindful of what happened in Game 4 but for different reasons. Philadelphia coach Brett Brown warned his team to avoid the distractions associated with physical play and the ejections that resulted from a third-quarter melee, and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson called on his team to bottle that emotion and put it toward avoiding elimination.
“Maybe the most important thing tonight — and we’ve addressed it hard with our players — is there is no mystery to me on how the game is going to be reffed or played,” Brown said. “The noise surrounding this series is head-scratching to me. I’ve been in a lot of series. There is nothing that beats this in relation to the discussion about many different things.”
Brown inferred that he was mystified by the Nets’ reaction to seeing center Jarrett Allen decked by 76ers center Joel Embiid for the second time in the series. The Nets’ Jared Dudley and the 76ers' Jimmy Butler were ejected after the scuffle that ensued, and Nets general manager Sean Marks entered the officiating crew’s dressing room after the game to express his displeasure, resulting in a $25,000 fine and his suspension for Game 5.
“Our ability to look through the mist, not get distracted by the noise, not get baited into anything is crucial,” Brown said. “Nothing else comes close to comparing to our mindset . . . It is No. 1 on my mind for tonight.”
Atkinson had other priorities. “Our mindset is we want to take this thing back to Brooklyn,” the Nets coach said. “Thought we had a great shot last game. Didn’t close it out, so I think our guys are a little on edge, a little frustrated that we didn’t finish our business. I’m curious to see how we react. My guess is we come out fighting like lions. We’re a resilient group, tough group.”