Good news, Philadelphia sports fans! The Philadelphia 76ers are back home tonight, meaning, according to the Sixers’ basketball bylaws, the game will be a win. Things look even sunnier for Philadelphia in light of the fact that tonight’s opponent, the Brooklyn Nets, are on the second game of a back-to-back, having lost 118-107 to the Utah Jazz last night in Brooklyn.
Tonight is the second of four meetings this season between the two clubs. The Nets waxed the Sixers one month ago by 20 points in Brooklyn. Like tonight, Joel Embiid was not available for that contest, but unlike that previous clash, the Nets will now have Kyrie Irving on the floor.
The mercurial Nets star returned to action over the weekend after receiving a cortisone shot for his injured shoulder. The hope is that Irving can delay surgery until after the season. Kyrie dropped 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting in just 19 minutes against the Hawks Sunday, before scoring 32 points in extended action last night against the Jazz. Presumably, Josh Richardson will draw the first straw against Kyrie, but we should also see Ben Simmons get a chance to continue making his All-Defensive First Team case.
In addition to Kyrie, the Nets are getting back to full strength with Caris LeVert’s recent return. LeVert has appeared in five games since missing over six weeks with a thumb injury, averaging 14.3 points in 21.0 minutes per game. Spencer Dinwiddie has been playing too well to fall out of the starting lineup, so LeVert has been coming off the bench. With all major hands now on deck (outside of Kendrick Perkins’ best friend, Kevin Durant), it’ll be interesting to see if Brooklyn makes a push to move up from the 7-8 tier to the 2-6 grouping in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the two straight losses (and six straight on the road), it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Sixers. Josh Richardson was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He has scored at least 23 points in three of his last four games, as he continues to take on even more of the ball-handling duties in the half court, with Ben Simmons working more as a roll man. Matisse Thybulle has begun shaking the rust off after his knee injury, finally making his first field goals and 3-pointer in his third game back Monday night. More crucially, with the team back home, no one has to rely on Matisse to feed them.
The Sixers have slid into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, certainly a place no one expected them to be at the halfway mark of the season. With a few winnable games upcoming, tonight would be an appropriate time to time to turn the tide and get the good vibes flowing back into this 2019-20 campaign.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid (out - hand)
Brooklyn: Kevin Durant (out - achilles); Wilson Chandler (questionable - hamstring); Garrett Temple (questionable - knee)