The Sixers are riding a nice five-game win-streak that boasts quality wins against the Raptors, Nuggets, and Celtics. The team’s last two wins have even come without star big-man Al Horford. So far, Horford is only listed as questionable so hopefully, he will be able to play come game-time. Looking to continue the streak, the Sixers travel to Brooklyn to face off against Spencer Dinwiddie and the Nets.
Dealing with their own injury concerns, the Nets will once again be without Kyrie Irving, one of their prize free agents from this past off-season. Even without Irving, the Sixers need to focus on this game, they’ve already dropped a few games to lesser teams, Brooklyn could be next. Spencer Dinwiddie, like many guards, tends to give the Sixers fits. If the Sixers let him, he could have a huge night and get his team the win. This is a very winnable game if the Sixers are focused and its up to Brett Brown and the team leaders to make sure they are.
Keys to the game
Cool down the hot hand
The Nets (without Durant, Irving, and LeVert) start and end with Spencer Dinwiddie. He is on an absolute tear without anyone around to take shots away from him. A volume scorer in its purest sense, Dinwiddie will look for any chance to score. He’s been the hot hand since Irving went down and the Sixers will need to slow him down.
There aren’t too many offensive threats left on the Nets if you can remove Dinwiddie. There are some shooters but most of their scorers are injured so if you start with the top threat, they should stall. The strategy should be to switch off Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson on him with Matisse Thybulle and James Ennis supplying the help defense. Take away open shots/driving lanes and force the rest of the roster to make shots.
Remember who you are
While both teams would be in the playoffs if they were today, there is a clear talent-level difference. Without three of the top four players, the Nets are impressively holding on but they’re not in the same class. Unfortunately, the Sixers have a tendency to play down to their opponents, especially on the road. They’ll have to focus to maintain the mentality needed to win on the road. The team will need proper leadership to leave with the win.
Brett Brown will need to motivate his team, while Al Horford (regardless of if he plays) will need to mentor the team if they slip, and finally the young stars will need to lead by example. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will need to play as hard as they do when NBA legends call them out. No taking plays off, no soft defense, it will start with the stars to set the tone.
The Sixers are tied for the third-best record in the NBA and they need to play like it. This Nets team is inferior and they need to be treated as such. The Sixers need to end this game early and smother the Nets on both sides. Bully ball should make its return and Embiid and Simmons need to use their physical gifts to will their team to the win.
While this game should be an easier win the Sixers will need to focus to make sure of it. The team has the talent to make this a blowout, they just need the desire. I feel great about the game because I think Embiid is still hearing Shaq and Barkley’s words in his ears. Embiid looks like he wants to be great, not good and hopefully he’ll be focused on whether or not he’s having some fun during the game.
Final Score: Sixers 119 – Nets 103
Tip-off is at 6:00 PM EST with coverage beginning at 5:45. Catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports