Basketball has been exciting in Philadelphia for a number of years now. The Process — though it’s had its pitfalls — has led to a very competitive Philadelphia 76ers team. That team was drastically changed due to the trade of Ben Simmons to the Nets for James Harden in a deal that has certainly looked to be in Philadelphia’s favor. It’s been one month to the day since the blockbuster trade, and the Sixers will be welcoming the Nets to town for what could be the game of the year.
While neither roster will be at complete health, it will be a chance to watch Joel Embiid and James Harden take on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a potential preview of the playoffs. There will be no Ben Simmons on the court tonight though he will reportedly be making a bench appearance — if only to try and build his arbitration case against the Sixers.
The welcome that the Nets — particularly Simmons — is expected to get will be anything but cordial. The venom that has developed between the Philadelphia fanbase and Ben Simmons will only exacerbate an already heated rivalry.
Tonight’s will focus on two stories. First, the interactions between Ben Simmons and the fans in Philadelphia will be the most talked-about story of the night, particularly by the national media. Opinions will fly as people will continue to take sides on the matter, but simply put, there are more important matters at hand.
The second story, the more important story, follows the game on the court as James Harden will face his former teammates for the first time since the trade one month ago. In that time, Harden has thrived with the Sixers averaging 24.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 12.4 assists in his five games with Philadelphia. He’s also managed some impressive shooting numbers as he is boasting a slash line of 53.1/44.8/89.4 in that time.
There’s no love lost between James Harden and Kevin Durant, and the latter has passive-aggressively — and on occasion aggressively — vocalized displeasure with Harden for giving up on the Nets. There are two sides to every story, but it’s clear both sides think they’re in the right beyond a shadow of a doubt which will only further stoke the flames of this rivalry. Expect Durant versus Harden to be an explosive show tonight.
Between the talent on both teams, the dramatic storylines, and the current race in the Eastern Conference, tonight’s game will likely be able to make a legitimate claim to “game of the year,” not only for the Sixers and Nets but perhaps the NBA as a whole.
And Sixers fans, if you can’t make it to the game tonight, stop by Franklin’s Pub in East Falls tonight for a live event covering the game! There will be great food, great drinks, and giveaways as well, including a Joel Embiid jersey!