Welcome, Sixers fans. Tonight’s 7 o’clock game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Brooklyn Nets has been eagerly anticipated for some time.
From a health standpoint, the Sixers are in good shape, but the Nets won’t have their full roster. Both teams share the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 37-17 records.
The Nets are coming off Tuesday afternoon’s 127-97 win at Minnesota. The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but was postponed a day after Sunday’s fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
The Sixers are as rested as a team can be in this condensed season. They were off Tuesday after Monday’s 113-95 win in Dallas.
The Sixers and Nets have split their two games. The winning team Wednesday will earn the key head-to-head tiebreaker.
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Questions about Sixers-Nets
One thing that is known is that James Harden won’t play for Brooklyn. Tuesday was the third straight game he missed because of a hamstring strain.
So many other things are not known. Here are some key questions leading up to the game.
Question: Will Kevin Durant play the second half of a back-to-back?
Answer: As background, Tuesday was Durant’s third game back since missing 23 games with a hamstring injury. He played 27 minutes, 10 seconds against Minnesota and scored 31 points.
When asked during the postgame Zoom interview if he would play against the Sixers, Durant responded, “I felt good out there. I felt like my wind and legs are getting up under me each and every minute I am playing. That is what I really wanted out of this time. We will see how I feel in the morning and will talk to coach and training staff and see where I will go from there. "
Q: Will Kyrie Irving play?
A: Irving missed the Minnesota game for personal reasons. When asked if Irving would play against the Sixers, coach Steve Nash said he didn’t know. The Nets are so thin at point guard that Nash was jokingly asked if he might suit up.
Q: How will the Nets defend Joel Embiid?
A: Even if the Nets were 100% healthy, this would be a monumental challenge. DeAndre Jordan, a healthy scratch the previous five games, played 20:37 off the bench and had 13 points and seven rebounds against Minnesota.
The Nets could also use LaMarcus Aldridge, but he didn’t play against Minnesota because of a non-COVID illness. Nash said Tuesday night that there was no determination yet on whether he would play against the Sixers. The Nets could also use 6-foot-11, 215-pound Nicolas Claxton. A second-year player, Claxton doesn’t have the bulk to stay with Embiid.
No matter who guards Embiid, that player should receive plenty of defensive help from teammates.
Q: Besides dealing with Embiid, what is the Nets’ biggest priority?
A: That would be keeping Ben Simmons from attacking the rim. Simmons can get to the basket, regardless of whom the Nets use to defend him.
Q: Other than stopping Durant, if he plays, what is a key for the Sixers to win?
A: Without knowing if Irving will play, I’d say stopping Joe Harris. He is shooting 48.2% from three-point range and hit 5 of 8 threes in scoring 23 points against the Timberwolves.
Keith Pompey writes that Ben Simmons raises great points about the star-studded Nets (questioning the Nets’ defense). Will Sixers use that to their advantage Wednesday?
The Sixers bench has been playing better lately and Doc Rivers says a main reason is that the starters have recently been playing together, which helps the reserves.
So much is made about stopping the Nets’ explosive offense. David Murphy writes that the big question is whether the Nets can guard Embiid.
On Monday, Stephen Curry surpassed Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer. Ed Barkowitz has a fascinating comparison of Curry’s and Chamberlain’s careers as Warriors.
The Sixers have moved up to the No. 4 spot in the latest Inquirer NBA power rankings.
Quite a turnover
It takes All-Star-caliber players to commit turnovers. In looking at the NBA record for turnovers, of the top 10 career leaders, eight are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The two who aren’t in the Hall will be some day: LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
Great players commit the most turnovers because they handle the ball so much. Here are the career leaders in turnovers, courtesy of Basketball-reference.com.
1. LeBron James, 4,576
2. Karl Malone, 4,524
3. John Stockton, 4,244
4. Kobe Bryant, 4,010
5. Jason Kidd, 4,003
6. Russell Westbrook, 3,810
7. Moses Malone, 3,804
8. Isiah Thomas, 3,682
9. Hakeem Olajuwon, 3,667
10. Patrick Ewing, 3,537
In looking at this season, the top players in average turnovers are also stars. Here are this year’s leaders, courtesy of NBA.com:
1. Russell Westbrook, 5.0
2. Luka Doncic, 4.3
3. Trae Young, 4.3
4. James Harden, 4.1
5. Kevin Durant, 3.9
Tonight: Brooklyn Nets at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, ESPN
Friday: Los Angeles Clippers at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia/ESPN
Monday: Golden State Warriors at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, ESPN
April 21: Phoenix Suns at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
April 22: Sixers at Milwaukee Bucks, 7 p.m., Fiserv Forum, TNT
Passing the rock
Question: Will we be going 3 deep or 4 deep in the playoff rotation? Will Kork [Furkan Korkmaz] and [Matisse] Thybulle be the situational 4th spot? — Thomas Olsen from Facebook
Answer: Thanks for the question, Thomas. I think that Thybulle will definitely be in the playoff rotation. The Sixers will need to match him up against the opponent’s top perimeter offensive player when Simmons is on the bench, or even when Simmons and Thybulle are paired together, If Thybulle shows he can hit the three more consistently, his minutes could increase.
Korkmaz has been playing some of his best basketball lately. If he continues to shoot well, Rivers will find minutes for him, even if the Sixers go smaller and have Korkmaz, Thybulle and Shake Milton on the court at the same time with the second unit.
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