Thursday’s measly two-game slate feels incredibly small compared to yesterday’s 12-game bonanza. I’m not sure what’s going on with the NBA’s scheduling algorithm, but somebody needs to blow into the cartridge or hit the reset button. Fortunately, things get more back to normal on Friday with a 10-gamer.
Unfortunately, Simmmons isn’t yet ready to make his debut in a Nets uniform. However, he will be on the bench when Brooklyn takes on the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center. You can bet the Philly faithful will be ready to give their former All-Star an earful, even if he won’t actually play in the game. As of now, BetOnline has the new-look Sixers favored slightly over the Nets in this one.
The Nets are starting to get right at the right time. Steve Nash has been forced to deal with plenty of adversity in his two years on the bench. So far this year, Brooklyn has navigated the Kyrie Irving vaccine drama, which is still awaiting a final conclusion. Kevin Durant and Joe Harris have both missed significant time with injuries, with the latter now done for the year. Harden also grew frustrated enough with the situation to ask for a trade away from the Nets barely one year after his arrival from Houston last January.
In the meantime, Nikola Jokic is going to keep dragging this team across the finish line. The reigning league MVP is putting together an even better campaign this season, which is no small feat. All the Joker is doing for an encore is averaging 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game. In Sunday’s win over the Pelicans, Jokic posted an absurd 46-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist triple-double in a come-from-behind victory. Jokic scored 30 of those 46 points in the fourth quarter and overtime alone.
With this game set to take place in Philadelphia, both Irving and Durant will be in the lineup and on the floor for Brooklyn. This is exactly what the Nets had in mind when they signed the pair together in free agency a few years ago. Of course, Brooklyn is still waiting for that championship dream to become a reality.
Of course, the Hornets are also one of the worst defensive teams in the sport. Expect both of the Nets’ superstars to find significantly more defensive resistance tonight against a 76ers team that has improved defensively as the season has progressed.
The 76ers believed they made out like bandits in the Harden deal. Through the first few games since the move, it’s hard to argue to the contrary. Philly has rattled off eight wins in 10 games since February 10 as they continue their ascent up the Eastern Conference standings. The Sixers are now third in the conference, just 2.5 games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat.
Philadelphia is also the healthier of the two teams coming into this one. Danny Green, who will miss the next handful of games with a finger injury, is the only name on the 76ers’ injury report. The veteran’s role has been declining as the season progresses, anyway. Philadelphia now relies more heavily on Matisse Thybulle to serve as the No. 1 wing defender.
Nikola Jokic is making quite a compelling case to repeat as league MVP, but Joel Embiid is the current betting favorite. Embiid, who finished as the runner-up to Jokic in last year’s voting, is averaging 29.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, and better than four assists per game. The Nets will be without LaMarcus Aldridge in this one, which leaves their frontcourt looking awfully thin. Embiid will go toe-to-toe with Drummond, his former teammate and rival. Embiid has feasted on Drummond in previous years, however. Embiid is averaging nearly 28 points per game on 53 percent shooting from the field in his previous matchups against Brooklyn’s new starting center.
As expected, the arrival of Harden has been a major boon to Philadelphia’s offense. The 76ers boast an offensive rating north of 117 points since the trade deadline. In the minutes Harden has played, that number skyrockets to nearly 128 points per 100 possessions, which is almost unfathomably high. While that kind of offensive production is unsustainable in the long term, it’s fair to expect the 76ers to have little trouble putting points on the board in this matchup. The Nets have allowed a whopping 119.9 points per 100 possession since January 1.
Both of the 76ers’ losses since the trade deadline came with Harden out of the lineup. He missed the first few games after the deal nursing a lingering hamstring injury. He was also sidelined for rest purposes last weekend when Philadelphia fell to the Heat in Miami. In five games with Philadelphia, Harden is averaging 24.6 points, 12.4 assists, and 7.6 rebounds.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers NBA Game Pick
Motivation should not be an issue for either team in this one. Harden will be out to prove that he is fully capable of leading the 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference. Durant and Irving, meanwhile, will be looking to show Harden how foolish he was to give up on Brooklyn’s situation so early on.
In the end, it’s really simple. Can the Nets slow down the 76ers’ new high-octane offense? Given their woeful defensive numbers since the beginning of 2022, I seriously doubt it. Brooklyn knows Harden’s tendencies as well as anybody, but that doesn’t mean they’re equipped to actually slow him down. Between Embiid and Harden, Philadelphia is going to toast that shoddy Brooklyn defense all night long. Give me the 76ers to win and easily cover that 4.5-point spread on their home floor tonight. With a raucous home crowd backing them, Philly could win this one going away.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers Betting Recap
- Moneyline: Nets +160, 76ers -180
- Point Spread: Nets +4.5 (-113), 76ers -4.5 (-107)
- Over/Under: Over 235 points (-110), Under 235 points (-110)
- Pick: 76ers -4.5 (-107)