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Nets visit Philly to take on 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The World Tour is underway. The Brooklyn Nets went into Milwaukee to watch the Bucks celebrate their championship and get their rings. The champs put on a show and sent the crowd home happy with a fantastic 23 point win over Brooklyn. For the Nets, they’ll be heading back home to Barclays after this for their own home opener.

The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly got the one seed last season, but it all came crashing down as they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Semifinals. They opened their journey on Wednesday night in New Orleans, turned it up in the fourth and cruised to the Opening Night win.

Where to follow the game

Say hello to our friends at the YES Network! They’re back and will be starting their coverage of the team tonight. ESPN for the out of towners and WFAN on radio. Find us on clubhouse post game as well. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Day’ron Sharpe was a late scratch with a toe injury. He and everyone else is ready to roll. That doesn’t include Kyrie Irving.

On Sunday, Doc Rivers said Shake Milton is “nowhere near playing” after suffering a sprained right ankle in practice recently. He’s out. Joel Embiid is questionable with knee soreness. Ben Simmons is... woo buddy, we’ll get to him in a moment.

The game

Ben Simmons is around, but not really around. When we last saw him, this happened...

Eek. Since then, Simmons has asked for a trade, held out of training camp, randomly showed up, and is apparently back with the team. He didn’t play in preseason but has reportedly kept himself in shape while he’s been away so if he does play tonight, it’s going to be awkward as hell. He showed up to practice on Tuesday, subsequently started causing trouble, and got himself suspended for the season opener in New Orleans on Wednesday. The media asked Joel Embiid about it shortly after practice on Tuesday, and well...

“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly. He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job. That’s [the front office’s job]. I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, try to lead the guys that are here, and I’m sure they feel the same way. Our chemistry has been excellent despite everything else that happened the last few months. So like I said, I don’t really care.”

FROM THERE, it somehow managed to get even worse! He showed up at the practice site yesterday, left due to what was termed “back tightness” and was out the door. Daryl Morey got to talking, and well...

Good luck to that man.

Of course, there’s always more. Here’s the latest from Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania Friday morning...

The question we’ve been asking for the past few years is if you can win a title with Tobias Harris as your second scoring option. The answer so far has been no, but Harris is still a pretty solid and respectable contributor for a good team. As Philly tries to figure out their future, we’ll see if Harris can add a bit more to his game to push the 76ers further.

Amazingly, this is the first time the 76ers have played a regular season game against Kevin Durant since March 2, 2019. KD was on the Golden State Warriors at the time and because he’s KD, led that game in scoring with 34 points on solid efficiency and got his team the win. Last time Doc Rivers saw KD, Durant shut down the Staples Center. Matisse Thybulle guarded KD during the Olympics, so he’ll get the honors again tonight.

Rebounding was a bugaboo for Brooklyn on Tuesday and the 76ers were one of the better rebounding clubs last year so it’s going to take a better effort tonight on that side.

James Harden didn’t have the greatest of season debuts, but 20 points and eight assists is not bad as a C level game. As Brooklyn figures out the rest of the rotation around the dynamic duo, Harden’s passing and the downhill pressure he puts on defenses will open things up.

Player to watch: Joel Embiid

How do you top a season in which you were the runner up to MVP? That’s the question Joel Embiid will look to answer as he leads the 76ers. For as great as he is, he did struggle down the stretch of that Hawks series and turned it over 16 times in the last two games. If you can swarm him and crowd his space, you might have a chance at slowing him down enough. If you don’t, you’ve got a big that can score on all three levels and is an absolute battering ram in the post that will wear out any defender you put in front of him. The Process has proven himself over and over again and as the 76ers drive into an uncertain future, having Embiid lead the way will be a source of comfort for Philadelphia.

The Nets frontcourt rotation will get a workout tonight. For the past two seasons, DeAndre Jordan was supposed to be the big that got this matchup. Now that DJ is out west with the Los Angeles Lakers, we’ll see how Steve Nash and the coaching staff handle this. Nicolas Claxton got the start on Tuesday, but didn’t play the best despite putting up decent numbers. Steve Nash has mentioned the rotations are pretty fluid, so it wouldn’t be a shock if LaMarcus Aldridge got the start here.

From the Vault

The NBA released the last third of the 75 greatest players of all time last night, and one of the 75 was Allen Iverson!

And at MSG, Jaylen Brown put on a show as he scored 46 points in the Celtics double overtime loss to the Knicks. Brown joined Michael Jordan, Anthony Davis, and World B. Free as one of the only players with 45-5-5 in a season opener...

Wait a minute, I almost forgot someone. Kyrie Irving!

More reading: Liberty Ballers