The 76ers are once again in tank mode. Arguably, their two best players, Michael Carter-Williams and Joel Embiid, are out at least until 2015 and their other top player, Nerlens Noel, is coming off ACL surgery that kept him out all last year. Neither of their top two picks, Embiid and Dario Saric, will play a minute this season and six of their roster players are on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals. They have the worst attendance in the NBA and their tanking strategy is so obvious that the NBA is changing its draft rules to counter it.
Is there potential for something better? Sure, but not this season. They come into Barclays Center 2-4 in preseason, with wins over the Hornets and Magic and losses to the Celtics (twice), Knicks and Timberwolves. In their last game, vs. the Magic, they were led by Drew Gordon, whose main claim to fame is that he is Aaron's brother. Three other players had 10+ points, but only one of them, Alexey Shved, the Russian point guard, is guaranteed for this year.
On the other side of the court is a jet-lagged Nets squad, who looked out of sorts and out of luck Sunday night in Brooklyn, losing to the Celtics. The Nets are in one of the most grueling preseason --if not THE most grueling preseason ever. Three days after returning from a week in China, schedulemakers have them playing three games in four nights. After that ends on Wednesday, they have a week off until they open in Boston. Their only commitment during those seven days is Open Practice in Brooklyn next Sunday. Hopefully, their jet lag will be over by then.
Where to follow the game
The Nets will be back on YES for a second consecutive night, the network's last preseason game before Opening Night. No NBA TV for international fans.
Player to Watch: Jerome Jordan
The one player who didn't seem bothered by jetlag or the Celtics was Jerome Jordan, the 7'1" center with the 7'6" wingspan and a big reason to push as hard as he can. If he makes the club, he gets a $100,000 guarantee from the Nets. And he certainly seems like he is on his way. He scored 17 points Sunday, shooting a perfect 7-of-7.
In three preseason games, he's averaging 9.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 16 minutes per game. On Sunday, he showed off a nice touch from the top of the key, hitting two in quick order.
"Jerome, who?" joked Lionel Hollins after the game. "I thought that was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out there."
"I like the kid. I’ve had him before and I’m pulling for him [to make the team]," said Hollins, who had Jordan in Memphis camp in 2012. "But he’s gotta earn it. He made a step in that direction tonight. He did what we asked, he scored more than we expected. But he was trying to guard the basket and he had a couple blocked shots. He played decent."
The final decision will be up to Billy King.
From the Vault
How could we forget last season's monster performance by Joe Johnson last season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, he scored 37 points on 10 three pointers, eight in the third quarter.
The Nets have off on Tuesday, but play again Thursday in Boston vs. the Celtics. Who's out tonight? Brook Lopez for sure. Kevin Garnett and Markel Brown didn't play Sunday because of stomach viruses and won't play again vs. Philly.