In Game 1 against the Sixers, fleshy Nets vet Jared Dudley shone. He finished with two points, but made several nice reads after lumbering into traffic, snagged a steal which led to a charming slow-break before Mike Scott broke it up on aesthetic principle, and, most importantly, played some stout defense on Philly’s no-jumper wonder, Ben Simmons.
Simmons had nine points in Philadelphia’s 111-102 loss. The Nets were +16 when Dudley was on the floor, and the overly online lug would post some Drake lyrics in celebration. Go off, Jared Dudley. You earned it.
After those exertions, the 33-year-old spent Game 2 in a nice suit as he recovered from a calf injury. Simmons, meanwhile, burst out of the gates and straight to the rim, finishing on an 18-10-12 triple-double in a 145-123 rout. Is this incontrovertible evidence of Dudley’s impact? Of course not. Will I choose to take it as such? Yes. Do I pray it will provide enough fuel for one of the unlikeliest and stupidest beeves, between a strapping young star and the version of that man that spent the next 11 years suspended in zero gravity? Also yes. That Patrick Beverley-Kevin Durant rock fight is so passé; this is the choicest cut of the NBA playoffs.
Dudley served an additional helping on Wednesday when he called out Simmons’s well-known disadvantages:
More seriously, he also seemed peeved by the young Sixers who giggled about Joel Embiid’s flying elbow into Jarrett Allen’s jaw. The grill is hot. Dudley says he’s good for Game 3 today, and should be fully expected to slap the floor while sagging some 10 feet off Philly’s flawed prodigy. On the one hand, his thick frame and veteran instincts probably will help the Nets cope with Simmons in the half court. On the other hand, any team that finds itself stuck in a series yearning for the physicality of Jared Dudley might have some broader structural concerns. Which is to say: Nets in 5.
Update (1:09 p.m. ET): The marination continues: