The Philadelphia 76ers are in control of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets with a 3-1 series lead heading home for a potential closeout, but head coach Brett Brown says his team must collectively keep their cool.
5 TAKEAWAYS: 76ers in control after chippy Game 4 win against Brooklyn Nets
"There's no secret how this game tomorrow will be played, given the complaints that have surfaced in regards to refereeing and what inevitably will be sort of the reaction to the game," Brown said, via ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
It's been a chippy series through the first four games, with tempers flaring in Game 4, which saw Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler both ejected following a scuffle which spilled into the front row of the crowd.
Joel Embiid was assessed a Flagrant 1 for his foul on Nets big man Jarrett Allen which led to the altercation, his second of the series, which puts him two flagrant points (two more Flagrant-1 fouls or one Flagrant-2 foul) away from an automatic one-game suspension.
The most important thing about this dustup today, from a long term perspective, is that Joel Embiid now has two flagrant foul points in the playoffs. Remember: once a player reaches four in the playoffs, they get an automatic one-game suspension.- Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 20, 2019
"I want to get ahead of that as the coach. Anticipate different things like that," Brown added. "Share stories with my team so we can just stay very linear, very straight line. Just play through noise, and that's what interests me the most in how to close out a series."
From the already fiery on-court intensity to the back-and-forth between Dudley and 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, Game 5 could well be decided by which team keeps their emotions in check and Brown is all too familiar with the potential for that to determine a playoff series.
"It's the discipline that we have to have," Brown continued. "I've told this group candidly, I sat on the bench in San Antonio (in 2007) when Robert Horry hip-checked [Steve] Nash into the stands and Amar'e [Stoudemire] and Boris [Diaw] walked onto the court. And we weren't beating them. I think they were winning the NBA championship.
"We remember Draymond [Green] stepping over LeBron [James]. And they're up 3-1 and they lost the series (in 2016). So it's not holding your breath. There are reminders that I owe my players as the coach to have them be adults, be big boys and navigate through this. It's not our fault at times we're 20 pounds heavier and three inches taller (like Embiid vs. Allen). And so, in the meantime, we just got to be smarter and that's my job."
Get your popcorn ready!
Game 5 takes place on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.