Make it happen. Riding a four game losing streak, the Brooklyn Nets went into Tuesday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets hoping to snap out of it and get a win against a team they’re battling for playoff positioning. They did that and then some by coming away with a much needed victory. The W kept the Nets in eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings and as the team heads into the stretch run, they’re going to need to handle business and get some help along the way.
The opponent tonight will be a tough one. The Philadelphia 76ers have managed to figure things out and hope to go on a big run in the playoffs. They’ve been off since Monday after beating the Chicago Bulls. The 76ers have an outside chance of snagging the number one overall seed in the Eastern Conference as we head down the stretch.
Where to follow the game
TNT on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
No Joe Harris. No Ben Simmons either> He’ll be on the bench though. Philly fans will have to wait to get their loudest boos off at a later date. LaMarcus Aldridge missed Tuesday’s game with a right hip impingement and is out tonight as well.
Paul Millsap missed Monday’s game due to personal reasons. He’s not on the injury report so he should be available tonight. Danny Green has a lacerated middle finger and will be out as he recovers from that injury.
The odds are favoring Philly tonight, but stranger things have happened.
The Nets centers have 24 fouls to work with, and they’re gonna need all of them tonight. Joel Embiid has been on an absolute tear this season and is one of the contenders to come away with the MVP award at the end of this season. The big fella is averaging career highs in points (29.7) and assists (4.3) a night. How best to describe The Process? Let Kevin Durant take a crack at it:
.@KDTrey5 on Joel Embiid:— Boardroom (@boardroom) March 9, 2022
"He's really unstoppable. He said something where he was like I can transform from like Kobe, to Hakeem, to Shaq, to a couple other players and I was like, 'Yo, you're telling the truth.'" pic.twitter.com/K7IQQaBtAa
Andre Drummond had his best outing as a Net on Tuesday, and the team is going to need that level of play again against Embiid. Aside from the 20 points and 14 rebounds, Drummond made an impressive for him 6-10 from the free throw line. He and Nic Claxton will see the majority of minutes at the five with LMA out. Blake Griffin hasn’t played since March 1 against the Toronto Raptors, but he might be pressed into duty this evening. To his credit, Griffin has stayed ready when his number is called all season long.
ICYMI, DeAndre Jordan is a Sixer now and will back up Embiid. He hasn’t been a positive factor on the Nets or Los Angeles Lakers in recent years, so we’ll see reuniting with Doc Rivers does the trick.
Seth Curry will see his old backcourt running mate this evening. Tyrese Maxey has had a breakout sophomore season and is one of the building blocks to the team’s future. Maxey can break defenders down off the dribble, had success running the offense and being the lead option this year. His growth has 76ers fans excited for what this and many other seasons holds for the youngster. Curry will look to make it happen from deep tonight and with this being his return to Philly, he ought to get a nice hand from the Philadelphia faithful. Curry was sensational for the 76ers in the Playoffs last year — 18.8 points and shooting splits of 58/51/79 — and stepped up in ways his teammates didn’t. That ought to get him a few cheers.
The best offenses make the most out of every possession, and the 76ers do well to limit their turnovers. The Sixers have only turned it over 12.8 percent of the time this season, third lowest mark in the NBA. They like to play at a slow pace (third slowest in the league) so the Nets will look to speed the game up and try to make it happen in transition.
Matisse Thybulle gets the unfun assignment of trying to slow down Kevin Durant. KD had a meh game against the Hornets on Tuesday, but the greats always bounce back. Against the 76ers this year, Durant has averaged 32 points, 10.7 rebounds, and eight assists a night on a smooth .515/.353/.909 shooting split. Durant has cooked every defender the 76ers have thrown at him, so we’ll see how Doc Rivers and the Philly staff try to slow him down this time around.
Player to watch: James Harden
Well whaddaya know, somebody remembered how to play aggressively again! When we last saw James Harden around these parts, he was walking off his shift as he quit on the team in Sacramento with the Nets season spiraling downward. Since he got what he wanted and moved to Philly, he’s back to playing like a top 75 player of all time. He’s cut the turnovers in half, is making half of his 3-pointers, and is back to spamming free throw attempts again.
He’s also back in shape, not whining about foul calls like he was at the beginning of the season, and is where he (supposedly) wanted to be all along, playing next to Joel Embiid. The relationship ended badly, but what’s done is done. For Brooklyn, the job is to get the win and make his life hell. The players are saying it’s just another game, but you know. Getting a W against your former running mate would be dope and will help keep them from disaster.
Going into Tuesday’s game against the Hornets, I wrote the following:
Irving and the Nets have no margin for error and with the way things are currently, they will need him to play like the Hall of Famer he is.
FIFTY points on 15-19 from the field later, I’d say that held up amazingly well. The best thing about his game was of his nine three point makes, I’d say six of them could be classified as catch and shoot threes. The Nets offense is at its most dynamic when the ball is hopping around and having a player like Irving who can jump start the offense in his own right and cash in on catch and shoot opportunities makes them an incredibly dangerous team once everyone is locked in. If everything stays the same as it is right now, Irving won’t be back on the court until Tuesday night in Orlando so the Nets can keep him out there for longer shifts against an elite team. A win tonight would give the Nets and Nets fans a much needed shot of positivity as they head back home.
From the Vault
Happy belated birthday, Shaq!
and rest in peace, Biggie Smalls.
More reading: Liberty Ballers
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Philadelphia 76ers Game Notes - Philadelphia 76ers
- Sixers, Nets square off in high-drama reunion - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- It’s personal: Nets, 76ers meet after Simmons-Harden swap - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Nets insist they hold no grudge with James Harden ahead of Philly reunion - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets not worried about Ben Simmons ahead of Philadelphia return: ‘Big boy’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Why Ben Simmons needs to embrace the hate he’s about to receive in Philly - Peter Botte - New York Post Sports+
- 76ers know that facing Nets is not just another game - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Kevin Durant offers advice for Ben Simmons in his return to Philadelphia - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Nets-Sixers is an instant rivalry, no matter what Kevin Durant says - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Ahead of return to Philly, Kyrie Irving has advice for Ben Simmons - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Lowe: What to watch for in tonight’s massive Game 1 tilt between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers - Zach Lowe - ESPN+
- Doc Rivers, ahead of Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia, says rivalries are good for NBA - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving wishes communication better all around, but says he has no hard feelings toward James Harden - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Ben Simmons timeline: How 76ers star went from top pick to Philadelphia’s biggest enemy - Nick Metallinos - Sporting News
- Does Ben Simmons deserve a 76ers tribute video in return to Philadelphia? - Nick Metallianos - Sporting News
- Ben Simmons will be on Nets’ bench when Sixers host Brooklyn - Matt Mullin - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Philly villains Carson Wentz, Ben Simmons now face endless Eagles, Sixers venom - Marcus Hayes - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Kept out of the James Harden deal, the Sixers’ Matisse Thybulle is now benefiting from his playmaking - Gina Mizell - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Practice notes: Sixers trying to focus on basketball, not Ben Simmons saga - Kyle Neubeck - Philly Voice