Ben Simmons wore a jacket emblazoned with “lover” in his post-game press conference but there is little love shared between the Australian star’s Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets.
A melee, with Simmons in the middle of it, erupted and spilled into the crowd in Saturday’s NBA play-off showdown in Brooklyn.
The 76ers did gather themselves to defeat the Nets 112-108 in game four of the eastern conference series to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
The 76ers can eliminate the Nets and move into the second round with a win in Tuesday’s game five in Philadelphia.
“It was a wild game,” Simmons told reporters.
“There was a lot of stuff going on early on and I think we maintained our mindset with the game and kept level-headedness.”
Nets and 76ers brawl goes into the crowd after a hard foul from Embiid on Allen.
Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler ejected. pic.twitter.com/nLO03rmhvT
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 20, 2019
Nets veteran Jared Dudley started a feud with Simmons earlier in the week when he said the Australian was “average” when restricted to playing in the half-court.
Sixers centre Joel Embiid has angered the Nets with his physical play targetting opponent Jarrett Allen.
When Embiid inflicted another heavy foul on Allen midway in the third-quarter Dudley took exception, ran at Embiid and gave him a shove.
Jimmy Butler rushed in shove Dudley in retaliation before a mass of players, with Simmons in the thick of it, and a referee fell into the first row of the crowd behind the basket. Dudley and Butler were ejected.
Game five promises to be explosive, with both teams engaging in a war of words in post-game interviews and the Nets declaring they will not back down from the 76ers’ physical play.
“If anything I should have got him worse,” Dudley, referring to the shove he gave Embiid, said.
Embiid sledged Dudley after the game by describing the journeyman as a “nobody”.
Simmons had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while Embiid had 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks.
Australian Patty Mills delivered inspirational plays but it was not enough for his San Antonio Spurs as they fell to the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets won 117-103 on Saturday to square their best-of-seven western conference series at 2-2 with game five in Denver on Tuesday.
Mills had 12 points, with six coming from free throws as he put his body on the line charging to the basket or drawing contact attempting three-pointers.