The Philadelphia 76ers returned home from their five-game west coast trip, where they won all five contests, to a date with Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets. This was the first time that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would share the court as opponents since last year’s trade. The Sixers did defeat the Nets earlier in the season, but Joel Embiid, James Harden, or Tyrese Maxey played. The Brooklyn Nets came in tonight’s matchup after a west coast road trip of their own with a recent victory against the Golden State Warriors.
The Sixers led for most of this one and survived a furious Nets rally to win 137-133 behind 27 points off the bench from Tyrese Maxey and 26 points and 10 rebounds from Joel Embiid. The Nets were paced by Seth Curry, who scored 32 points, and Kyrie Irving, who scored 30 points and dished 10 assists.
Mad Maxey, the Sixers’ Super Sub
With the backcourt starting lineup of James Harden and De’Anthony Melton gelling while Tyrese Maxey was out with injury, it seems as if head coach Doc Rivers didn’t want to mess with the rhythm. Tyrese Maxey has been tasked with being the sixth man of this team, playing a super-sub role. All signs have indicated that Maxey has accepted his role, understanding he would still be playing 30 minutes a night.
Tonight against the Nets, Maxey showed, no matter if he is starting or coming off the bench, that he is a force to be reckoned with. Maxey scored 16 points in the first half and helped the Sixers build a 10-point halftime lead. He hit some nasty stepbacks when being guarded by Brooklyn center Nic Claxton. He also hit a clutch three in the fourth quarter and ended the night leading the Sixers in scoring with 27 points.
Simmons vs. Embiid
Extra security, police presence, and NBA officials. This is what the NBA wanted when they introduced “Rivalry Week.” With Ben Simmons returning to Philly with Joel Embiid on the court, the atmosphere was playoff-like. There were a few times in the first quarter when Simmons switched on to Embiid, and those two went at it. There was also a moment when Embiid dunked in the vicinity of Simmons and had quite a few words for him.
Simmons was scoreless in the first half but ended the game with 12 points. He also got a second-half technical foul getting into it with Georges Niang. There is always going to be some bad blood between these two players. They barely liked each other when Simmons was a Sixer, so you can expect Embiid to lean into the beef.
With so much hype surrounding the Sixers and Nets stars, the role players for the Sixers and Nets quietly had very good games. For the Sixers, De’Anthony Melton had one of his best games as a Sixer scoring 17 points, four rebounds, and three blocks, all while shooting 50% from three. Tobias Harris also had a solid game with 18 points and some timely fourth-quarter buckets.
Nic Claxton and Seth Curry both had tremendous games for the Nets to help make up for the absence of Kevin Durant. Claxton scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Curry had the ultimate revenge game shooting 7-10 from three-point range.