By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
After a nail-biting victory over the Washington Wizards last night, the Sixers are right back in action tonight. They travel to Brooklyn to face off against a Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets squad.
Here are three things to watch in the matchup.
As previously mentioned, this will be the tail end of a back-to-back for the Sixers. Although it is a short trip to Brooklyn, the Sixers still had to travel for this second game. Seeing how this team comes out after the game they had last night will be a major storyline to watch early on in the game.
This will be the second back to back for the Sixers this year, and the second game did not end well for the Sixers the first time. After dominating the Knicks one night, they traveled to Cleveland and were run out of the gym by a young Cavaliers team.
The Sixers did not get a chance to get their stars off their feet early against the Wizards either. Four of the five starters played more than 36 minutes, led by Tobias Harris who logged 41 minutes.
Between playing the back to back and the amount of energy exerted to hold off the Wizards, fatigue could be a major issue for the Sixers in this matchup.
Defending star guards
The biggest storyline of last night’s game was Bradley Beal. After the Sixers have shown the defensive powerhouse they can be this season, Beal finally made their defense look mortal.
This performance could not have come at a worse time, because now they have another elite scoring guard that they have to worry about. Although the Nets will be without Kevin Durant, they will still have the services of Kyrie Irving.
Irving has been off to a good start this season. Heading into this game, Irving is averaging 27.1 PPG while shooting 50% from the floor. Containing him on offense should be the main point of attack for the Sixers’ defense.
We saw last night how one elite talent can keep a team in a game. This game is a good opportunity for Ben Simmons to show that he is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, and continue to build his DPOY resume.
Big man battles
There is one thing that stands out about the Nets roster when matching up to the Sixers. They are one of the few teams with good bigs to throw at the Sixers’ frontcourt.
Brooklyn has a good young center in Jarrett Allen and an experienced vet in DeAndre Jordan. This combo of bigs should lead to some interesting battles around the rim with Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard.
Although Allen is known for being a defensive center, he hasn’t had much success slowing down Embiid. Heading into this matchup, Embiid is averaging 28.6 PPG and 12.9 RPG while shooting 52.6% from the floor.
Embiid has dominated about every center matchup he has had this season, but he will have his hands full tonight with Allen and Jordan.