Showtime: 76ers host the Brooklyn Nets tonight in South Philadelphia
We have finally arrived to the day that has been circled on every 76ers’ fan calendar. Ben Simmons has returned to Philadelphia as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, to sit on the bench in an already heated Eastern Conference rivalry.
The Nets enter tonight an even 33-33 on the season, good for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn has gone 2-5 since the All-Star Break, and need every win they can get for seeding purposes come playoff time. Now with Kevin Durant back in the lineup playing next to Kyrie Irving (some of the time) the Nets come into Philly to close out their season series.
The 76ers are 40-24, good for the third seed in a very crowded top of the Eastern Conference standings. Philly is just a half-a-game behind the Bucks who have rattled off six straight wins, while the Bulls sit a game back from the Sixers in fourth place.
A 76ers win tonight would give the season series an even 2-2 split with playoffs just over a month away.
Ben Simmons Returns to Philly
It should come as no surprise that Ben Simmons isn’t “healthy” enough to play basketball yet for the Brooklyn Nets. However it did surprise some that he would be sitting on the Nets’ bench tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Fans already started the hate brigade before the clock struck noon today, and one can only imagine how crazy it will get inside once the game begins.
Don’t be surprised if the 76ers run a thank you video for Ben Simmons before the game, a classic tactic to save their own butts and disassociate from the hatred Ben will receive all night long. Security inside Wells Fargo has also been reportedly bolstered in preparation for tonight’s game, for obvious reasons.
There will also be a fan that takes all of this too far, playing right into the narrative sports media loves to push about Philly fans. Last year’s popcorn fiasco with Russel Westbrook was already one of those stupid moments, and tonight could be another. Simmons and his Klutch Sports puppets may even use it in an attempt to get Simmons’ money back from sitting out.
- Ben Simmons (Out)
- LaMarcus Aldridge (Out)
- Joe Harris (Out)
- David Duke Jr (Out)
- Danny Green (Out)
Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond
Outside of Ben Simmons’ return to Philly there is a very important basketball game that will happen in the Wells Fargo Center. One of the most interesting matchups is going to be Joel Embiid going up against his former teammate Andre Drummond. Out of all the NBA centers in the league to have reps playing defense against Embiid, Drummond is probably at the top of that list in the past year.
While Drummond may be used to taking on Embiid due to their time spent together in practices, game speed is a whole different thing, and Andre still is getting used to playing as a starting center again. Drummond came off the bench for a year with the Lakers, and spent a majority of the season backing up Embiid. Expect Claxton and maybe even Blake Griffin to get some minutes at the five, matched up against Embiid.
The Nets do a lot of things well, but interior defense is an area many teams have been able to exploit all season. None of those teams have Joel Embiid, the best center in the NBA, so this game should be an Embiid offensive masterclass.
Force Someone Outside Durant And Irving to Score
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are two of the most elite scorers in today’s NBA. Both will find a way to get buckets against any defender put in front of them. Trying to argue taking away one of them is pointless, but what the 76ers can do is force other Nets to score to beat them.
While Brooklyn’s two wins since the All-Star break has seen Kyrie score 38 and 50 respectfully, putting Matisse Thybulle on him is your best bet to at least slow him down. The Nets have lost to some of these top seeded teams in the East as of late despite Kevin Durant scoring 30+ in a couple of them. That’s because guys like Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and Bruce Brown couldn’t score consistently to keep the Nets alive.
Force Andre Drummond to try and score over Joel Embiid. Send doubles towards Durant and Irving occasionally to force Bruce Brown to score. As great as this duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can be, it can’t beat great teams in the East alone, and their record shows it.
|Brooklyn Nets||+165||+4.5 (-110)||O 235.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-200||-4.5 (-110)||U 235.5 (-110)|
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This is the biggest game of the year for the 76ers so far, a matchup against the “Super Power” in the East with a former player who left on the worst terms imaginable sitting on the opposing teams bench.
Outside factors aside, this new-look 76ers team has been able to score at will, and the Nets are far from a good defensive team. The Nets have failed to take games off the best teams in the East, and the 76ers are going to be no different tonight.
Mandatory Credit: Associated Press