- Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely having re-aggravated a shoulder injury
- The Nets are in Philadelphia on Thursday night, and the 76ers own the best home record in the NBA
- Can Brooklyn cover against the bipolar Sixers in the NBA’s first night of action since the All-Star break?
The Philadelphia 76ers welcome the Brooklyn Nets to Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, who will be without point guard Kyrie Irving.
He is out indefinitely having re-aggravated the shoulder injury that saw him miss time earlier in the campaign. Irving’s absence no doubt contributes to the Nets being eight-point underdogs in the latest Brooklyn Nets vs Philadelphia 76ers odds.
Pursuing home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Sixers need to go on a run following the All-Star break. They are currently 34-21, 1.5 back from Miami Heat for the fourth seed.
Brooklyn Nets vs Philadelphia 76ers Odds
|Brooklyn Nets||+8 (-105)||+275||Over 217 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||+8 (-115)||-350||Under 217 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 20th
Something had to change. Brett Brown finally took the big step, dropping Al Horford to the bench for the Sixers’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers before the break.
Furkan Korkmaz started in Horford’s place, but the fifth starter could change again for the visit of Brooklyn. Glenn Robinson III started the second half against the Clips, and Matisse Thybulle could get the nod on Thursday.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were immense in the win over Los Angeles. They utilized the pick-and-roll from the post with their three teammates spacing the floor. It was a nightmare to guard – Brooklyn don’t have the size to throw at the All-Star duo if they can work in tandem.
The offense still stuttered in the handful of minutes Horford was on the floor with Simmons and Embiid. It’s an issue that needs solving. For now though, they will run with Horford coming off the bench and hope to see Embiid and Simmons thrive together once again.
Embiid will no longer be playing with the custom splint on his finger. Considering his struggles since returning from injury, with many suggesting he’s playing through discomfort, that could be a massive boost.
The All-NBA center has missed the three meetings between the teams so far this season, but he averaged 29.25 points per game against the Nets last season, passing 30 in three of the four regular season matchups.
Dinwiddie to Thrive?
Spencer Dinwiddie stepped up in Irving’s absence earlier this season, posting career highs in usage rate, points, assists and shot attempts. His usage rate drops notably when he shares the floor with Irving – it’s 29% for the season, but was down at 26.1% in January when Irving played eight of the Nets’ 15 games.
Dinwiddie has scored a total of 72 points in his three games against the Sixers this season. He hasn’t been great from deep (shooting a shade over 30%), but has shot it well from beyond the arc against the Sixers.
Philadelphia have options to throw at Dinwiddie. Simmons could take the assignment, though Brown may prefer his size on one of the wings. Dinwiddie will likely have to deal with defensive stud Thybulle at times.
A 33.7% assist rate is good for 24th in the NBA among players with 25 or more starts. That puts Dinwiddie between Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo and ahead of assist machines Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry. The Sixers will prioritize stopping the former Colorado guard and they have the personnel to do so.
Philly are 15-10-2 against the spread at home, the Nets are 10-15 ATS on the road. Brooklyn have played some great basketball without Irving already this season, but the Sixers are a force to be reckoned with at home.
The crowd will be rocking after their huge win before the break and a fully healthy Embiid could take over against DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen.
A defensive rating of 101.9 at home is good for best in the league. The offense can function with Simmons and Embiid if the other three players are willing outside shooters and stay on the perimeter. Of their 11-game home winning streak, eight have been won by eight or more points (the other three were seven-point wins). The Sixers are a good bet at +8.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers +8 (-115)
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