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Nets try to rebound vs. 76ers after league embarrasses Kevin Durant

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Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The bottom line is this. Kevin Durant, one of the most transcendent players in league history —and the best story of the season with his spectacular return-to-play — was embarrassed by the NBA Friday night. Even though he tested positive for coronavirus nearly a year ago and tested negative three times Friday, he was jerked around in front of an international audience through no fault of his own and now may have to sit several games because of what can kindly be called the league’s confusing, health and safety protocols.

And, oh yeah, the Nets lost to the Raptors.

The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly finds themselves atop the Eastern Conference and with Doc Rivers running the show, they hope to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since Allen Iverson’s MVP year in 2001. They were on a four game winning streak, but that got stopped after they got washed by an undermanned Portland Trail Blazers squad Thursday. Stuff happens.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Primetime tip off so the party is getting started after 8 p.m.

Injuries

Spencer Dinwiddie and Nicolas Claxton are out. Kevin Durant reportedly didn’t travel to Philadelphia but shortly after noon, the Nets called KD “questionable.” Then, just before 6 p.m., he was declared “out” because of “health and safety protocols.” Kyrie Irving is also out with a right index finger sprain. No word on how long Durant will be out. Nor is there word on how serious is Irving’s sprain.

Mike Scott is out. Shake Milton is day to day. Terrance Ferguson is in COVID-19 protocols. Ben Simmons missed Thursday's game due to left calf tightness. No word on his availability for this one. Seth Curry was pulled from the game due to an illness, so no word on his status either. Curry was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and made his way back onto the court.

The game

Brooklyn won the first meeting on January 7. To put it mildly, the Nets are incredibly different from that first game. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn’t play and the James Harden trade was days away from going down.

One issue that remains the same from the first meeting is how to slow down Joel Embiid. Our large adult son Jarrett Allen did an admirable job against Embiid the first time around, but as we know, Allen is now residing in Cleveland. That leaves DeAndre Jordan as the main big to battle with Embiid.

With Reggie Perry heading to the G-League bubble, the new(est) guy, Norvel Pelle, figures to get some run as well. Pelle used to be a 76er so he’s used to tussling with Embiid in the paint. He hopes to bring a much needed shot of interior defense and rebounding for a Nets team that needs as much of it as possible. With this being his first bit of action this season, don’t expect too much out of the new guy. Embiid suffered a hyper extension of his knee on Thursday, but he came back the same game and dominated. Embiid is the most important player on the team and his success + health is of the utmost importance.

Here's an interesting wrinkle. This is night two of a back-to-back for Brooklyn. They're off for two days before starting ANOTHER back-to-back next week, this time in Detroit and back home against Indiana. And the week after that, they have a West Coast B2B, taking them to Sacramento and Phoenix. Steve Nash and the coaching staff will have to make sure to keep everyone fresh as the schedule tightens up.

Philly was the runner up in the James Harden sweepstakes, and if these teams square off in the playoffs, it’ll be a major story to watch. Harden has been excellent for the Nets and as the Nets offense continues to develop its rhythm, Harden will continue posing difficulty for opponents.

Player to watch: Tobias Harris

For pretty much every championship team and contender you can think of, they all have one perimeter scorer you can count on to get a bucket for you when you need it. Can Harris be that guy here? He's always been a solid player, but has stepped up in a major way this season. He’s a stones throw away from a 50/40/90 season and has been a perfect complement for Embiid.

From the Vault

I’m in an Aaliyah mood today

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