Sixers set to face Nets in Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia

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Ben Simmons
Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons (10) closes his eyes during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

If you had set up a reminder on your smart device calendar for Tuesday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, it was for good reason. The unfortunate reality is that the drama many NBA fans hoped to see in this game will have to wait until the Sixers welcome the Nets back on January 25th, 2023. There is, however, still basketball to be played, even if Joel Embiid can’t square off against his former teammate, Ben Simmons.

Game Info for Sixers/Nets

When: Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Tipoff: 7:30 pm EST

Where: Philadelphia, PA | Wells Fargo Center

How to watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia

As you probably learned recently, Embiid will miss this game and the Charlotte back-to-back matchups due to a mild foot sprain. Against the Timberwolves on Saturday, he sustained the injury as his foot got caught under a Georges Niang fall. The Sixers’ big man is not the only player to miss the Brooklyn game, though.

The Sixers’ injury list is so long that a hyperlink had to be clicked to gather all of the names. The other players expected to miss this highly anticipated matchup include Tyrese Maxey (foot), James Harden (foot), and Jaden Springer (quad). Players who were upgraded to probable include Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris.

So, what can we expect in this game without Philly’s key stars? The Sixers will have to dig deep to go up against a Nets team that has been playing better since Jacques Vaughn took over for Steve Nash. Brooklyn’s record is 6-4 in the month of November. Notably, Kyrie Irving has returned, and Ben Simmons is starting to play with more confidence. This could spell serious trouble for the 76ers.

Philly has a top 5 ranked defense, but without Joel Embiid as their anchor in the middle, logic would suggest that Kevin Durant and company will attack the rim at a high rate. A healthy Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills will stretch the floor for the Nets, which will cause major issues for the Sixers’ defense.

Offensively, the Sixers will rely heavily on Tobias Harris, who will have full access to the primary scoring role as Embiid, Maxey, and Harden are sidelined. Other Sixers who will have to fill the scoring void include Shake Milton and De’Anthony Melton. On Saturday, versus the Timberwolves, both guards had a solid game, scoring 27 (Milton) and 19 (Melton), respectively.

Although Brooklyn is not known as a defensive team, they give up the fourth-fewest points in the paint per game (44.9), according to NBA Advanced Stats. This could reject hope that Montrezl Harrell or Paul Reed will step up in a bigger offensive role at center.

The overall theme of this game has not changed despite Embiid’s expected absence. Ben Simmons will suit up for the Nets on a night that Philly fans are sure to unleash more boos than any arena has ever heard. On a scale that is comparable to Lebron James returning to Cleveland after leaving for Miami, this Sixers game against the Nets will surely draw tremendous ratings, being nationally broadcasted on TNT.

In regards to the Sixers fans’ reaction Tuesday night, a reporter asked Simmons if he thought that “maybe enough time has passed that it won’t be as bad.” Simmons chuckled and replied, “In Philly? Come on now. I know what’s coming.” 

Can the former Sixers guard and number-one pick handle the pressure, especially when he is at the free-throw line? Millions will be watching as he wears another team’s jersey for the first time under the roof of the Wells Fargo Center. 

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