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Nets and 76ers open second half of NBA season in Philly

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LA Clippers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome back. Now that everyone's finished with the All Star Weekend festivities in Chicago, everyone's back to business. Well, everyone but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

And for the Brooklyn Nets, business means making sure they get themselves into the playoffs. They helped their cause a great deal with a tremendous victory against the Toronto Raptors last week to take them into the break. The win snapped Toronto's franchise record 15 game winning streak.

The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. I think it's safe to say that this year has been a disappointment for Brett Brown and the Sixers. However, they made some changes that might get them to reach their full potential. More on that in a bit. They enter the second half fresh off a convincing win against the Los Angeles Clippers last week. That's how you handle business.

And of course, they are monsters at the Wells-Fargo Center, racking up a 25-2 record (to go with 9-19 on the road.)

Where to follow the game

TNT on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Primetime affair so the party is getting statted after 8 PM.


Kyrie Irving has been out with a knee injury, but that's not causing him any trouble at the moment. His shoulder is another story, and the injury he suffered earlier this year is back with a vengeance and he's off to see a specialist. Sheesh. Dzanan Musa, Jeremiah Martin and Nic Claxton are all playing for Long Island.

Nothing doing for the Sixers.

The game

Brooklyn took game one while Philly took games two and three. This is the last regular season meeting between the clubs this year.

I wouldn't be surprised if the 76ers overlook this one a bit. They have a primetime, ABC game in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Saturday night. That's one of those "measuring stick" games and when you consider just how mediocre they've been on the road, that game can set the tone for how the rest of their regular season will go.

We talked about changes up top, and the Sixers made a big one. They moved Al Horford from starting power forward to the bench as his fit in the starting five was simply not there. It always seemed like a rough fit as he's spent the past few years excelling at the 5 position in Atlanta and Boston. We'll see how this change manifests itself come playoff time.

Caris Levert is back to playing like he did in the playoffs last spring. Levert put two showcase games together against the Raptors and with Irving still limited by injury, he will have to fully take on the role of second shot creator. He's going to have his hands full with the Sixers perimeter duo of Matisse Thybulle and Ben Simmons. Last meeting, they spearheaded a fourth quarter Sixer defensive effort that forced ten Brooklyn turnovers. If the Nets want to pull off the upset, they're going to need to solve that puzzle and make sure they make the most out of every possession.

Player to watch: Joel Embiid

It's been an interesting month for the big guy. He missed some time with a broken finger, and now that he's back, he's been getting booed by the home crowd. Embiid is a natural heel, but it's bad for business if you're getting booed in your hometown when you're supposed to be a babyface.

Despite that, it's been another good year for the All Star. He's averaging around 23 points and 12 rebounds a night while being sixth in the Association in free throws attempted a game. Embiid is incredibly difficult to contain in the post, so teams always hope he spends most of his night camped out behind the three point line.

And with this being a TNT game, expect discussion about the state of modern big men. Personally, I've always felt that the talk surrounding the "end" of big men has been overstated some, but your mileage may vary.

Jarrett Allen will get a nice workout inside. Allen hasn't seen Embiid since last season's playoff series, and he had his fair share of difficulties in the matchup. Having DeAndre Jordan to back him up will do wonders for the Nets as they have another big body to throw at Embiid.

From the Vault

A double play today. We really don't give DJ Jazzy Jeff enough love, so let's correct that

And last but not least, it's always a good time to show Phyllis Hyman some love

More reading: Liberty Ballers