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Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers preview: Nets hit road

It’s a new month, and the Brooklyn Nets are hoping to turn things around quickly.

Philadelphia 76ers v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

They want that old thing back. On Wednesday night, Kevin Durant made his return to Barclays Center. It was a... unique evening for a lot of reason, but the result ended the same for the Brooklyn Nets as the Phoenix Suns beat them on primetime. The Nets ended January at 4-10 and are heading into a critical trade deadline in a few days.

The opponent tonight is back on the East Coast after a long stretch far from home. The Philadelphia 76ers are still near the top of the Eastern Conference, but they’re coming into this one pretty banged up. They ended the road trip on a high note by beating the Utah Jazz in the late night TNT spot on Thursday evening.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 6:00 p.m. ET.

Injuries

No Dorian Finney-Smith, Day’Ron Sharpe, or Dariq Whitehead. Ben Simmons is listed as probable with a left knee injury.

Joel Embiid is out with a left knee injury. We’ll get to his whole saga in a bit. Kenneth Lofton Jr is out for personal reasons. Robert Covington is out with a left knee bone bruise. De’Anthony Melton is out with a back injury. Marcus Morris Sr is questionable with left foot plantar fasciitis. Nic Batum is questionable with left hamstring tightness.

The game

Philly won the first game in November.

So, Joel Embiid for who knows how long. Initially, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported he suffered a torn meniscus, but walked that back. As we wait on the full diagnosis, the blame game is being played. LeBron James and a lot of other people are blaming the media and thresholds for award eligibility. My main man Kyle Neubeck of All PHLY talked about the injury and the big picture ramifications after Tuesday night’s loss against the Golden State Warriors

There are moments when organizations need to protect the players from themselves. It appears that this was one of those times.

Without Embiid, Tobias Harris moves up the responsibility scale. Harris is a solid secondary scoring option and can do more when his number is called. Harris is good for a solid 18 points a night and has given the Nets trouble over the years. Cam Johnson

The Nets are in need of wins generally speaking, and against this 76ers team in particular. Nic Claxton said as much at practice on Friday:

“We’ve been losing to them a lot. We got swept, we lost to them earlier in the season. So there’s definitely an added motivation for us to come out and get a win. It’s an Eastern Conference opponent, and we’re tired of taking L’s to them.”

Brooklyn will need Claxton to be a force on the inside if they want to get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves. Clax had himself a good January as he was ninth in the NBA in rebounds and 16th in blocks per game. The Nets defense picked itself up in January after a god awful December, and Claxton’s play was a big part of that.

Hopefully having Ben Simmons back should help the Nets get out on the go. When he played on Monday, he was able to keep the Nets going at full throttle and gave the bench a jolt of energy when he came in. This is his second game back in Philly, and I wonder how negative the reaction will be this time around. When you leave a place on an ugly note, people don’t forget for a long time. Sometimes it ends after a decade. Other times, it lasts forever. We’ll see.

A Philly kid who won’t receive the vitriol Simmons does is Mikal Bridges! Bridges started to find some success from deep in January as he made 38 percent of his three pointers on eight attempts a night. You see the confidence in his shot, and that’s something he needs to continue building on.

The extra days off should do Bridges some good since this is the first night of a three game in four days stretch. Granted, they’re not traveling far, but still.

Player to watch: Tyrese Maxey

So how do you celebrate your first All Star nomination? By setting a career high in points of course! Tyrese Maxey scored 51 points for Philly in Utah and every point was essential for his team. Now that Embiid is out for the foreseeable future, the weight of the franchise will fall on his shoulders. Maxey has been someone that can carry the team for a while and keep you in games. This All Star game is a well deserved accolade for one of the league’s brightest stars and for Philadelphia, their sports team could use some good news after a disastrous January. NO shout out to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cam Thomas will presumably get the start this evening, and his ability to generate offense will go a long way for the team.

From the Vault

Last night, Carl Weathers passed away at the age of 76. Weathers was in so many iconic movies and shows, so let’s pull up an all time kick ass movie, Predator!

More reading: Liberty Ballers, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, The Sixer Sense, All PHLY