Today, the Brooklyn Nets (13-12) will return to Barclays Center for a 3 pm start against the struggling Philadelphia 76ers (13-14). Both teams have been playing poorly recently. The Nets are coming off of a blowout loss to their crosstown rivals the Manhattan Knicks last Wednesday. They have only won 2 of their past 10 games. The Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks at home on Friday, but that snapped a 5-game losing streak. They have lost 7 of their past 10 games.
This game marks the first time that the 76ers will play in Brooklyn. The two teams met in the preseason with the Nets coming out victorious in overtime in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Sixers are led by a young core of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young. Andrew Bynum, who they traded for Andre Iguodala in the offseason, will not play today.
The Sixers have struggled without Bynum this season, especially on offense where they rank near the bottom of the NBA in most categories. Luckily for them, the Nets’ defense has been pretty awful recently, so they should be able to put some points on the board if they can execute well.
Injuries: Brooklyn is as healthy now as it will ever be. Brook Lopez will not have a minutes limit in this game for the first time since his injury. The Nets have not played since Wednesday, which is great for Deron Williams and his various injuries. Also, Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Childress should return to the lineup tonight after they both missed a few games with various small injuries. For Philadelphia, Andrew Bynum still has yet to play this season and he is out. Both Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday have recently returned from injuries and they should be ready to go.
Deron Williams vs. Jrue Holiday. Advantage: Williams
Jrue Holiday is simply having a great year for the 76ers. He is averaging career highs with 18 ppg and 9 apg and has really taken the next step towards being a very good NBA point guard. In my opinion, he should be an all-star this season. However, he is not a great 3-point shooter at only 32%, so don’t be surprised if the Nets leave him open on the perimeter. We’ve been waiting for Deron Williams to turn his season around and will tonight finally be the night? Deron has had 3 full days off and hasn’t played since last Wednesday. He may have a big game.
Joe Johnson vs. Jason Richardson. Advantage: Johnson
Jason Richardson isn’t what he once was when he averaged 23 ppg for the Warriors in 2006, but he is still a solid contributor to this team with 12 ppg and 4 rpg. He is not a great defender, but he is pretty big and Joe Johnson will not have a huge size advantage. JJ seems to have snapped out of his funk and has played well individually during this Nets 2-8 skid. Maybe they need him to play badly again to start winning (?).
Gerald Wallace vs. Evan Turner. Advantage: Turner
After being selected with the second pick in the draft 3 years ago, Evan Turner had not lived up to expectations. This year he is starting to turn that around. He is averaging career highs 15 ppg, 7 rpg, and 4 apg and is shooting career high percentages from the field, foul line, and 3-point line. Luckily, Gerald Wallace is a very good defender so hopefully he will keep Turner in check today.
Kris Humphries vs. Thaddeus Young. Advantage: Young
This may be another tough matchup for Humphries. Thaddeus Young is long, tall, and athletic. He is averaging 15 ppg and 7 rpg this season and has had some very big games. Young is the kind of player that often kills the Nets and I would not be surprised to see a 20-point, 10-rebound game from him tonight. It will be interesting to see how Coach Avery distributes the minutes at power forward tonight between Humphries and Reggie Evans.
Brook Lopez vs. Lavoy Allen. Advantage: Lopez
Brook Lopez needs to have a big game tonight. The 76ers have a pretty small and weak front line without Andrew Bynum and Brook needs to take advantage. Allen is starting at center and he is only 6’9, while power forward Thaddeus Young is 6’8. There is no reason why Brook shouldn’t have 25 or 30 points in this game and that is what I am expecting from him. Expect Spencer Hawes to also receive some playing time at center for Philadelphia.
Prediction: Nets 91, Sixers 82.
The Nets need to win this game to carry some momentum into the game against Boston on Christmas day. It would look very bad for them to enter that game sitting at .500. The Sixers have been struggling recently and the Nets have had 3 full days off since they last played. The Sixers also will be without their best player, Andrew Bynum. The Nets will have no excuse if they can’t win this game.