Nets vs. 76ers NBA Preview

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets. Nets vs. 76ers NBA Preview

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets. Will Newton/Getty Images/AFP

The Brooklyn Nets clash with the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night in a potential playoff preview. Here’s a breakdown for the game, including betting odds and our NBA picks.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Saturday, February 6, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center

The 76ers opened as 2.5-point favorites and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have them at -3.5. This leaves a 1-point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. FiveThirtyEight gives the 76ers a 64 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -178.

USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin has the 76ers at -1.18 using his Rating numbers, and the Nets at -0.03 using his eigenvector analysis, so there’s some room to grab potential betting value with the Nets +3 at SBK.

Offense is Defense for the Nets

The Nets’ defense in a way, is their offense. We saw that on Tuesday’s 124-120 home win against the Clippers more than ever. Watch the last three minutes of that game, the Clippers were in panic mode, not really running their offense and the Nets had them on the ropes, the Clippers had their backs against the wall because the Nets could match their firepower and they missed crucial shots. The Nets defended in the moments that mattered.

The pace that they play with, the tempo that they play with, that high-octane, run you out of the gym style let’s them hijack the momentum of the game, so the team that’s playing against them ends up not defending either, because that becomes the new nature of the game. It’s a do or die pace the Nets put teams on. Sometimes it backfires on them on nights they don’t take their opponent seriously, like what happened on Sunday’s 149-146 overtime home loss against the Wizards. You saw that in the two games against the Cavaliers but on marquee matchups when KD, Harden and Irving know that it’s a potential playoff opponent, the team wakes up and goes all out on both ends, executing their game to the fullest.

Will Simmons Play on Saturday?

Ben Simmons (plus-0.9 Value Over Replacement Player) missed Thursday’s game with left calf tightness. Simmons has missed three games this season and the 76ers lost them all (he missed the first two games with left knee soreness). With Simmons out, they lost 115-103 at home against the Nuggets on January 9th, 112-94 on the road against the Hawks on January 11th and 121-105 at home against the Trail Blazers on Thursday. This is what head coach Doc Rivers said when asked if this will be a long-term injury for Simmons. “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s long term,” Rivers said before Thursday’s game. “I think he will be fine. It started hurting him last night, honestly.” Rivers was referring to Wednesday’s 118-111 win at Charlotte.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum missed the game for the Trail Blazers but Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony carried the team and CJ Elleby and Anfernee Simons made the most of their increased playing time. Trent led the way with 24 points, Melo added 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and two blocks and Elleby and Simmons combined for 29 points off the bench. Joel Embiid went off with 31 points in the first half. He scored 25 of those points in the second quarter, after landing awkwardly on his right knee when he went up for a block in the first quarter. The star center was in pain on the floor but he was able to get up and walk on his power. He finished with a game-high 37 points, doing his best to keep the 76ers in the game but they faded away in the second half, getting outscored 64-48.

Prediction

The 76ers have to make sure that Joel Embiid (plus-1.5 Value Over Replacement Player) is all good for this game. The Nets don’t have a big man to match up with Embiid, but they have three pure scorers of the highest order in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, taking turns handing out buckets. They will need Embiid at his best. The Nets are going to get up a lot of shots. It will turn into an offensive matchup and the 76ers have to match them offensively because the Nets suck you into their pace and they have too many weapons, no one will run out of gas. They’re not a defensive team but they can get crucial stops, making them extremely tough to beat. Look for the Nets to bait the 76ers into playing their way. I like the Over, even with Kevin Durant (plus-5.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) out due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

NBA Pick: Over 237.5 (-110) at FanDuel

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