The 76ers clinched the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 105-87 victory over the Nets on Monday at the Prudential Center in the final game played by the Nets in New Jersey. The 76ers got 15 points apiece from Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday, and Thaddeus Young, who made 7 of 8 shots from the field to help the Sixers (34-30) secure the playoff berth. Evan Turner added 13 points. The Sixers connected on 43 of 80 shots (53.8 percent). But the win may have been costly; all-star Andre Iguodala was hurt late in the game.
The Sixers took the lead on a pair of Jodie Meeks free throws with 9 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the first quarter and never trailed after that. With the win, the Sixers pulled even with the idle New York Knicks in the standings. However, the Knicks (34-20) hold the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of their 2-1 regular-season record against the Sixers. The Sixers, who held the lead in the Atlantic Division for most of 2012 before being overtaken by Boston at the end of March, won’t know whom they will meet in the first round of the playoffs this weekend, but as the seventh or eighth seed they will face either Chicago or Miami. The Sixers went 1-2 against the Bulls this season.
However, Miami has won all three meetings with the 76ers and has beaten them 11 consecutive times during the regular season. The three-game winning streak marks the first time the Sixers have won three in a row since they beat Boston, Utah, and New York in the second week of March. The Sixers had a 17-7 lead over the Knicks early in the first quarter and built it to 31-18 at the end of a quarter in which they converted 12 of 20 field-goal attempts.
The Sixers took their largest lead of the first half when Brand followed Holiday’s 19-foot jumper with a dunk that gave the Sixers a 39-24 lead with 8:13 remaining. Marshon Brooks scored a game-high 18 points for New Jersey (22-43), which was playing without Deron Williams. Iguodala, who finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, left the game late in the fourth quarter due to injury. Iguodala had to be helped from the court at the time. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right calf.