The Philadelphia Sixers have been the best team in the NBA. After starting the season 7-1, they are now facing critique that they have not faced an actual contender yet. Joel Embiid has been front-running the MVP race, as newcomers Seth Curry and Danny Green have been playing their roles perfectly.
Fear not though, naysayers, as the Sixers will get a challenging test tonight. Up next, the Philadelphia 76ers (7-1) will take on the Brooklyn Nets (4-4). Thursday night at 7:30 PM. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with radio coverage on 97.5 the Fantatic. The game can be caught on national television, being played on TNT. You can also check out the Philly Sports Network watch along to watch the game with your favorite PSN writers!
The Sixers are currently one point favorites over the Knicks, with the over/under sitting at 226.5.
Quite obviously, the biggest name missing from tonight’s starters is going to be Kevin Durant. Durant, who missed last season due to an Achilles’ injury, is out for this game. The Nets’ star is going through a seven-day quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Along with Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie is sidelined for the rest of the season due to a partial ACL tear. Rodions Kurucs (ankle) is also questionable for this game.
A couple of significant surprises popped onto the Sixers’ injury report. Both Seth Curry (ankle soreness) and Joel Embiid (not disclosed) are questionable for Philadelphia. Curry is said to be fine, and chances are Embiid is just a rest candidate. Last night against the Wizards, Embiid played a hard fought 36 minutes and lead the team with 38 points, so resting him could make sense. Honestly, Embiid will likely be questionable due to needing rest on the back half of every Sixers’ back to back this season.
Along with those starters, Terrance Ferguson (personal reasons), Furkan Korkmaz (left adductor strain), and Mike Scott (knee) all will be out tonight as well.
Last night, Bradley Beal exploded for 60 points against the Sixers. Coach Doc Rivers wanted to leave Ben Simmons in a “rover” role, leading to Danny Green getting feasted on by Beal.
Kyrie Irving is everything Bradley Beal is, and likely even more. Irving has been on an unreal tear to start the season, putting up some of the most efficient numbers any coach could ask for. This being said, Doc Rivers needs to just put Simmons on Irving from the start. Hopefully Ben can maintain his push for defensive player of the year and keep Irving somewhat honest.
Tobias Harris: The Sixers’ Difference Maker
Look, Tobias Harris catches a lot of slack that he probably doesn’t deserve. After a rough start to the season, many fans clamored to have Tobias traded and exiled to the moon. However, since then, Harris has been on an absolute tear. Harris picked up the Eastern Conference Player of Week honors, which was well earned. Despite his rough start, Harris has boosted his season average to 19.3 ppg on just under 52% from the floor (and 46.5% from three!).
Tobias will be the difference maker in games like this. Tonight’s game is not going to be the best example since Durant is out. However, in the future, if Tobi is hot, he will be the slept-on reason the Sixers win games against these big opponents.
Honestly, this game feels like a let down spot for the Sixers. They’re winners of five straight and theoretically, they should win this game against a KD and Dinwiddie-less Nets team. As someone who is an avid bettor, this game is not something that would be optimal to put some money on.
The one thing that is different about this year compared to recent is Doc Rivers, plain and simple. This new Sixers team has shown to be resilient late in games. It’s early in the season, but the 2020-2021 Sixers are actually winning games that they should be winning. The Sixers should win tonight, and they will do just that in a high scoring fashion. It won’t be easy, but they get it done as long as Embiid actually plays.
Sixers win, 128-125.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire