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Nets wrap up March vs the Sixers

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s nice when the other guys are stuck in a losing streak. The Brooklyn Nets went down south to play the Hawks on Sunday as Atlanta tried to snap their six game losing streak. The Nets kept the Hawks struggles going with a convincing 107-92 win.

The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly is in the bottom of the East along with the Nets, but they’ve had their best season in a couple of years. Although they got beat up by the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, Philly has a lot to look forward to as we wind down the season.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Joe Harris is out and Sean Kilpatrick is probable.

It’s a party for the Sixers. Joel Embiid is out for the season. Ben Simmons is progressing, but still out. Jahlil Okafor has been out with a knee injury and it’s likely he’s out again. The good news: Tiago Splitter has been called up from injury rehab in Delaware.

The game

Philly won the first game in December and second in January.

This is the last Brooklyn home game of Women’s History Month and the team will be holding a fun panel prior to the start of the game. From 5:30 to 7, Irina Pavlova, Elisa Padilla, Christina Lewis Halpern, and Cassidy Hubbarth will take part in a roundtable discussion that will be moderated by Sarah Kustok. Check it out if you’re heading over to Barclays.

With the 76ers thin up front, they had to recall Tiago Splitter from the D-League (here’s where I admit I didn’t know he was still in the league). He should be available for this game and will be backing up Richaun Holmes. Holmes has done a nice job filling in for Embiid and could be a useful piece for Brett Brown going forward. For tonight, Holmes will have his hands full with Brook Lopez. Without having to deal with Embiid, life should be a bit easier for Brook on the inside this evening.

T.J. McConnell has been running the point for the 76ers, and will be matched up with Jeremy Lin. With nine games left to go, it would be easy to mark off Lin’s season as a disappointment. While we can certainly do that, there’s still enough time for us to continue seeing how Lin fits in with his teammates and how they play off of him.

Player to watch: Dario Saric

With The Process out until next season, Saric is the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year. He’s gotten better as the season has gone on and is averaging and impressive 19 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes a night on a 45/36.4/78.6 shooting split in March. At Liberty Ballers, Shamus Clancy compared Saric to an established player in the league and discussed his possible fit next to Simmons. He wrote:

Someone I’ve looked at as a potential comparison in terms of shooting is Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. As a rookie coming over from the Spanish ACB league, Mirotic shot 31.6 percent on threes in 2015 before jumping to 39.0 percent during his sophomore campaign. While I wouldn’t expect that dramatic of an increase despite some of the noise that comes along with three-point shooting numbers, Saric should be a well-rounded outside threat by the time the team is involved in serious playoff games. Saric also improved his shot from beyond the arc every season internationally before connecting on 40.7 percent of his threes in 2016.

If Saric can knock down an outside shot with some consistency, Simmons’ shooting question marks can be played down a bit in lineups where the two of them are sharing the court. The ideal situation is one in which both turn into no-look passing wizards with the ability to nail three-pointers, but that’s certainly not a given. A situation in which Simmons is the de facto point guard and primary ball-handler along with two three-and-D wings, Saric and Embiid could work well enough in theory despite the lack of shooting touch from Simmons.

With some player development, good health, and quality free agent acquisitions, Philly will be back in the playoff race sooner than we think.

Rondae Hollis Jefferson gets to match up with Saric tonight. Saric’s defense rates poorly, so tonight represents a good opportunity for RHJ to get some buckets. His main job however will be to make life difficult for Saric when he has the ball in his hands, so if he can keep him under 20 points, he’d have successfully cut off Philly’s best scoring option.

From the Vault

Today’s the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest college basketball games of all time, so let’s watch Duke vs Kentucky from 1992.

More reading: Liberty Ballers