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Nets come home to face the 76ers

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Back to life, back to reality. After a long losing streak and a long distance road trip, the Brooklyn Nets came back to the East Coast hoping to get back on track. They were able to do that and then some after they beat the Charlotte Hornets by 14 points on Thursday night. It was a much needed victory for a team that has been scuffling for the better part of a month.

The opponent this evening will be the Philadelphia 76ers. It's been a fun ride for this bunch and they're on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They've been off since Thursday after losing to the Miami Heat. From here on out, the schedule will get easier for Philly as they’ll only face five teams that are competing for playoff spots in their final 18 games.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Nothing new for Brooklyn. Isaiah Whitehead continues with Long Island.

Nothing new for Philly.

The game

Brooklyn won the first game in January.

Chances are this one is going to be decided in the fourth quarter. Philly has been the worst 4th quarter team in the East this season, as they’ve been outscored by six points by 100 possessions in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Nets, they aren’t much better as they’ve been outscored by four points per 100 possessions in the fourth, second worst in the East. Such is life for young teams trying to find their way.

Speaking of things that plague young teams, Philly has a turnover problem. They lead the league in turnovers, coughing it up a whooping 17 percent of the time they have the ball. They’re able to offset it with their fast pace and league leading work on the glass, but when the games get slower and more physical in the postseason, ball control will become absolutely essential.

Jarrett Allen will have a tough task on his hands. Joel Embiid has been sensational for Philly and can score from practically anywhere on the court. He'll look to draw Allen away from the rim with his three point shooting, and that in turn can open things up for the other 76ers. Allen has held his own all season and another great showing will go a long way in boosting his confidence.

Philly does has an issue with Embiid. They are trying to balance their need to make the playoffs with a desire to rest their best player, who’s not used to all these minutes.

Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes...

After their matchup with the Nets, the Sixers will have played seven of their last eight games on the road, and done so in 15 days.

During this stretch the Sixers have gone 3-4, and one thing is clear — Joel Embiid is feeling the effects of his first complete NBA season.

“He’s just played more basketball than he ever has in his life,” coach Brett Brown said after practice Saturday in Camden. “And now it’s starting to get to the interesting part of the season.”

It’s had some impact on Embiid. Although he’s averaging 20.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, those numbers and others are down during the recent stretch. Prior to February 24, he was putting up 23.9 and 11.1. His worst decline has taken place on defense. His defensive rating has dropped from 99.7 to 105.2.

Player to watch: Ben Simmons

For a dude who doesn’t have a jumper yet, Simmons has been pretty damn spectacular. He’s one of the favorites to win Rookie of the Year and has helped the Sixers turn into one of the better offenses in the league. He's second among all rookies in scoring and first in rebounding and assists. Simmons is a generational talent that already has the tools to succeed and with a little more seasoning plus a stronger roster around him, he can push Philly into championship contention.

When the Nets defend him, they'll have to be mindful of his ability to cut to the rim. Simmons is averaging 1.58 points per possessions each time he cuts, which is one of the higher marks in the league for rotation players. Spencer Dinwiddie and the other Nets will look to wall Simmons off and limit his cuts and drives to the basket to a minimum.

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