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Brooklyn Nets take on Philadelphia 76ers in next-to-last preseason game

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have not filled their fans with the glow of optimism so far this preseason.  They're 1-3, with the lone win coming against Detroit.  Their rotation has also been hit with injury, with Markel Brown (quad) out till at least Opening Night and now Willie Reed (thumb) gone for six to eight weeks.  We aren't even going to talk about Andrea Bargnani (hamstring).

On Sunday, they play their next-to-last preseason game, against the 76ers who beat them by two points last week.  The Nets defense looks horrid, with missed assignments that have left three pointers alone and big men up against guards, particularly vs. Boston earlier this week.

The Nets know they're bad. Andy Vasquez of The Record talked to Joe Johnson about it. Johnson told Vasquez that Lionel Hollins "got on" the team in a film session following Wednesday's loss to Boston.

"We've got to do a better job of helping one another," Johnson said. We've got some things to clean up."

The Sixers, on the other hand, are having an(other) existential moment. "The Process" took a hit this week when Sports Illustrated reported that there are fractures in the relationship between ownership, although not principal owner Joel Harris, and GM John Hinkie, particularly over Joel Embiid. Embiid was portrayed as a wild child not following doctors orders, swigging Shirley Temples and munching on chicken fingers alone in his hotel room.  Not a good look for anyone.

So, if the Nets are going to be "arguably the worst team" in the NBA, as David Thorpe said this week, they'll have to be worse than the Sixers, not an easy task. Friday night, the 76ers permitted the Wizards to score 128 points and were down 20 most of the game.

Where to follow the game

Hey, hey, Nets fans around the nation and across the world will be able to watch this one. The 1 p.m. game will air on both YES and NBA TV.  The preseason's final game, vs. the Celtics in Boston Monday, will not be televised.


As for starters, last we checked, it looked like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) and Donald Sloan (hamstring) will be back, but Bargnani (hamstring) will not.  We won't know till Sunday.  For the Sixers, who've taken four promising big men in the last three draft lotteries --Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor-- only Noel will be available. Okafor, taken at No. 3 last year, is questionable for Opening Night.

Player to watch: T.J. McConnell

For an undrafted player, the Arizona product (and Hollis-Jefferson's teammate last year) is getting a lot of play. With limited point guard reserves, McConnell has been starting for Philly and it was his shot that beat the Nets, 97-95 in Albany last week.

As Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote Saturday...

The 6-foot-2 guard scored 10 points and dished out 10 assists in Friday night's 127-118 loss to the Washington Wizards. He started for the first time this preseason and logged 26 minutes. He ran the team's offense with poise, something he was known for in college at Arizona and Duquesne. He gave little room on defense, forcing steals that led to easy fast breaks.

And as Breen notes, he's healthy, which among the Sixer PG corps is a positive. Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten, for example, are still recovering from torn ACL surgery and Pierre Jackson is just getting his legs back.

From the Vault

Thaddeus Young played seven years in Philadelphia until he went to Minnesota last year in the three-team deal that sent Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love.  In his first game vs. his old team on March 14 of last year, he scored 21 points in the Nets playoff push.

More reading: Liberty Ballers.