A Game 1 playoff deficit by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Brooklyn Nets Saturday afternoon got even worse during the game’s fourth quarter, when TV cameras spotted Amir Johnson, a veteran Sixers player who was inactive for the game, was shown using a smartphone on the bench and showing whatever was on the phone to Sixers star Joel Embiid, who was active for the game.
The incident took place in the fourth quarter of the game, with Brooklyn leading, and ESPN’s announcers made note of it on the broadcast, with Doris Burke calling it “not a good look,” as did various reporters and observers on Twitter. Johnson, a few minutes later, was seen walking out into the tunnel, although it’s not clear if that had anything to do with the phone incident.
The Nets won the first game of the series, 111-102, per ESPN, to take a 1-0 series lead.
Embiid, the star center who had been battling a knee injury, was listed as doubtful to play as late as Friday night, but he ended up playing in the game, scoring 22 points.
The 31-year-old Johnson has been in the NBA since 2005 and is in his second season with the 76ers. He has played sparingly down the stretch for Philadelphia, especially with the Sixers trading for big man Boban Marjanovic and signing veteran center Greg Monroe, and was therefore declared inactive for the playoff game.
The #3-seeded 76ers are facing the 6th-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference first round playoff series, in which Philadelphia has home court advantage. The Nets are playing the series with a roster in which most players are in the NBA postseason for the first time in their careers.
The series represents Brooklyn’s return to the playoffs after a several-years-long fallow period in which the Nets had nearly no top draft picks, thanks to an ill-fated trade with the Boston Celtics. On one occasion, the Nets had the worst record in the league but were required to surrender their draft pick to Boston.
The ESPN broadcast just showed this. Amir Johnson texting on the bench, with Joel Embiid overlooking, while the 76ers are down double-digits late in a playoff home opener. Man. pic.twitter.com/ONVz7PWc65— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) April 13, 2019
In the game, Jimmy Butler led Philadelphia with 36 points, while Embiid scored 22. But Ben Simmons scored only 9 points for the 76ers, J.J. Redick scored only five, and Tobias Harris only four, on 2-for-7 shooting.
D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points for the Nets, while Caris Levert had 23 points off the bench. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points, also off the bench.
The second game of the best-of-7 series between Philadelphia and Brooklyn will be played Monday night, after which the series goes to Brooklyn for two games.