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Nets home to face 76ers ... new unis, old ‘friends’

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I'm starting to feel like a broken record, y'all. The Brooklyn Nets played a fair first quarter, fell behind by a ton, made a spirited comeback, and wound up losing. This time the loss came to the New York Knicks as they completed the season sweep. It was Brooklyn's fourth straight loss.

The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly’s been having a nice season, but they’ve been through their fair share of rough spots. They lost on Monday night to the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Neither Caris Levert or Rondae Hollis Jefferson will play tonight. D’Angelo Russell is listed as “probable” and the Nets continue managing his return. Expect Isaiah Whitehead, who’s played well, to remain with the big club.

JJ Redick, who lives in DUMBO, has been out thanks to a leg injury but he’s playing tonight.

The game

Amazingly, this is the first meeting of the season between these division rivals.

New look Nets. Brooklyn will debut their new city jerseys tonight. The jerseys were inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge and will be worn 12 more times after tonight. Here’s a look, courtesy of Nets fan Paul Malignatti...

Get ready to run. Both teams are top five in pace, so this one should fly by.

The Nets have been struggling from deep, and tonight they'll be facing one of the league's best defenses. Philly is only allowing 103.1 points per 100 possessions and holding teams to just 33.5 percent from three-point range, both top five marks in the league this year. If the Nets aren't able to get good looks from deep, it's going to be a long night.

It's gonna take time, but the Nets need D'Angelo Russell to get back into the swing of things in a hurry. Russell has struggled since his return, but the further away he is from the injury that sidelined him for a few months, the more he'll look like his old self. In the meantime, he and Spencer Dinwiddie will have to contend with Ben Simmons.

Simmons has been everything the 76ers could've dreamed of and more. He is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. There's also a chance he gets named to LeBron James' All Star team. Not bad for a guy who doesn't have a reliable jumper yet.

Player to watch: Joel Embiid

I have to admit that I didn’t see Embiid being this good. Like damn near everybody outside of Philadelphia, I had major concerns that he could get through a season playing at a high level. So what has he done this year? Oh, just average 23 and 11 while providing solid rim protection and displaying moves we've never seen from a guy his size. He was selected to the All Star team as a starter, and it's a well-deserved honor. Dude's a star and the more he develops, the more enjoyable the NBA will be in the future.

Jarrett Allen got his first career start last night, and didn't look half bad. The rookie scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 19 minutes of game action. He got overpowered a few times in the low post, but he's young and growing so that's to be expected. Backing him up will be Jahlil Okafor. Big Jah had an incredibly ugly exit from Philadelphia, so look for much of the conversation surrounding the game to focus on his relationship with Brett Brown, Bryan Colangelo, and Philly management.

Kenny Atkinson is working to get him more minutes, and if he plays well over the next couple of weeks, he might be able to sneak into the starting five. Over the past two games, Okafor has played 48 minutes, Allen 38, and dethroned starter Tyler Zeller, nine, all of it in the game vs. Minnesota. That’s when he got into foul trouble and became Wally Pipp. (Look it up). Even 6’9” two-way player James Webb III has played 27 over the last two.

Okafor says it’s no big deal going up against the team that abandoned him.

“I’m excited,” Okafor said after the Knicks game. “I miss those guys in the locker room. They were all my brothers. We were together for a few years. I’m excited to see them all, but other than that, no.”

Do we believe him?

Nik Stauskas, included in the same deal, was asked the same question. He was more open.

“Yeah, it’ll be weird for sure, just because I spent 2 ½ years there,” Stauskas told The Post. “I’m still pretty close to some of the guys on the team. But most importantly I just want to get a win. That’d be the best part, is just getting a win against them. It’s definitely going to be weird playing against them.”

“We’re going to go at them,” Simmons said. “It’s going to be fun, though, just seeing them. But at the same time we’ve got business to handle in Brooklyn.”

Of course, it’s a homecoming for Trevor Booker, too.

From the Vault

This one’s for you, Giants fans.

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