After two consecutive ugly losses (against the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic), the Sixers look to rebound tonight as they host the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets hover one game above .500 with only seven games remaining, and every contest matters as they hope to secure their first playoff appearance since the 2014-2015 season.
Tonight’s game will be the final meeting of the regular season between the Nets and the Sixers -- though they are currently positioned to face off in the first round of the playoffs. Over the first three meetings, all of which occurred in December or earlier, the Nets have had the upper hand going 2-1. In those previous meetups, the Sixers have struggled to contain Brooklyn’s guards. Spencer Dinwiddie has not one but two 30-points performances against Philly this season, with Dinwiddie receiving a contract extension immediately after dropping 39 on the Sixers on December 12th. D’Angelo Russell has shined on occasion against Brett Brown’s defense as well, having one of the best games of his career with 38 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds on November 25th.
On the other hand, Joel Embiid has enjoyed matching up against the Nets, averaging 26 points a game in eight career contests. Embiid will draw Jarrett Allen for most of the night; Allen is no stiff, but Embiid is simply too much for Allen to handle. Jimmy Butler has also demoralized Brooklyn, though in a smaller sample. The Sixers’ lone victory over the Nets this season was realized thanks to a Butler buzzer-beating, step-back three back on December 12th.
Ben Simmons returns to the court this evening after sitting out against the Magic. He’ll be on five days rest, so he should have some extra pep in his step. James Ennis and Mike Scott, however, are game-time decisions.
The Nets have taken advantage of the Sixers this season by exploiting Philly’s defensive scheme. Brett Brown’s drop coverage, which often gives the opponent the option of challenging Embiid at the rim or taking a mid-range shot, appears to be ineffective against volume scoring guards like Russell and Dinwiddie. This is has contributed to a slight paranoia from Sixers fans that maybe, possibly, the Sixers are on upset alert for the opening round of the 2019 playoffs — I do not endorse this sentiment! Some of those fears will be minimized if the Sixers can get back in the win column this evening.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: Sixers -7.5, O/U 230.5