76ers face biggest test of the season tonight vs Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia is on a roll right now. After winning their fifth straight game against the Washington Wizards, the 76ers have a big test ahead. Tonight, they will travel to Brooklyn to face the 4-4 Nets. While Brooklyn isn’t at full strength, they are still a serious contender in the eastern conference this season. The Nets will be missing superstar Kevin Durant due to COVID protocols but are still competitive without him with players like Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen. Here is what to watch tonight.
Joel’s first big test
Through these first 8 games, Joel has been fantastic but hasn’t faced a good center just yet. Brooklyn has one of the better defensive big groups in the league with Deandre Jordan and Jarrett Allen. In 24 minutes, Allen is recording 11.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game and continues to grow. Allen has been getting most of the minutes but Jordan is still a solid defender in limited time.
This will be a big one on one matchup for Joel but nothing he can’t handle. Something to watch will be how he responds to a double team by Allen. With how Joel has been working out of double teams this season, I wouldn’t be too worried about him being slowed down slightly.
Guard battle off the bench
Philadelphia presents one of the more electric benches with the exciting young duo of Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton. For Brooklyn, Caris LeVert has been great off the bench. Although he’s had a rough patch the last week, he provided 24 points off the bench in the win against Utah. These two have shown the capability to hold their own on offense, now the question is can they contain LeVert?
Kyrie has to be licking his chops right now after Bradley Beal put up 60 points last night in Philadelphia. Kyrie is without KD and will be leading the offensive charge for Brooklyn. In his last game against Philly, Irving was held to only 14 points. Through 8 games this season, he is averaging a near career-high 27.1 points alongside 6 assists. Against Utah on Tuesday, Kyrie had 29 points on 63% shooting and 5 of 7 from deep. Philadelphia presents one of the best defenses in the NBA and they hope to prove that Beal was just a fluke.
Former 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka will return back for the first time since leaving this offseason. Udoka joined Brooklyn as a lead assistant coach with Mike D’Antoni this offseason under new head coach Steve Nash. Udoka isn’t the only former Sixer on the roster. Timothe Luwau-Cabarrot and Landry Shamet are both former players for Philadelphia currently playing for the Nets.
Tonight is a huge heat check for the 76ers. It was expected to be a heavyweight battle before the loss of KD. A lot of eyes are on Philadelphia and many feel they are only this good because of their weak schedule. A win here would help prove they are legit before facing the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.
Philadelphia is likely to come off sluggish after a close 4th quarter win but if they pull it together the 76ers should be able to contain Kyrie Irving enough to pull ahead with a win.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Szagola