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 Sunday's (AEST) NBA playoff showdown in Brooklyn.
Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler go head-to-head in game four.Credit:AP
The 76ers gathered 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 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 targeting their centre 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 to 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 said, referring to the shove he gave Embiid.
Embiid sledged Dudley after the game by describing the journeyman as a "nobody".
Simmons had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists but his biggest play came with five seconds to go and the 76ers up 110-108.
The Australian stripped the ball from Allen to deny the Nets a shot at levelling the score or hitting a three-point game winner.
Ben Simmons was key for the Sixers.Credit:AP
Embiid skipped game three with lingering knee soreness but battled through it with 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks in game four.
Dudley, who had come off the bench in the first three games, was inserted into the starting line-up in a positive move for the Nets, with the forward scoring eight points and unsettling the 76ers before his ejection.
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.
Denver, the west's second seed, were desperate for a win and secured their first play-off victory in San Antonio since 2012.
The Nuggets were led by centre Nikola Jokic's 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and were exceptional from three-point range, sinking 15 of their 31 long bombs.
The Spurs only made five of their 17 three-point attempts.
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