Burning questions for Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers: Concerns, absences and closers

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1:27 AM ET

  • Tim Bontemps

  • Ohm Youngmisuk

    ShutESPN Workers Author

      Ohm Youngmisuk has lined the Giants, Jets and the NFL considering the fact that 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for approximately a 10 years. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after operating at the New York Every day Information for nearly 12 several years and is a graduate of Michigan Point out University.

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PHILADELPHIA — Teams typically introduce their whole roster prior to their dwelling opener. But as the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers geared up to suggestion off at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, only Philadelphia’s starting up 5 was launched to the crowd.

The purpose was apparent: It would allow for the Sixers to prevent both disregarding their star issue guard, Ben Simmons, or introducing him in absentia to a refrain of boos.

It was however a different case in point of the house the two Brooklyn and Philadelphia find themselves occupying this time. Just after they completed with the top two data in the Eastern Convention past year, only to each drop in the next round of the playoffs, they entered this time as the epicenters of NBA information for the reason that of the absences of Simmons and Kyrie Irving.

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When the night time finished in dramatic manner, with Brooklyn storming back from a 10-point deficit in the final 5 minutes with a 16-1 closing operate to declare a 114-109 victory, the truth that no return is in sight for Simmons or Irving proceeds to cling about both equally teams. The two teams have a lot of star electrical power remaining and lots of other queries to response besides when, or if, their issue guards will return to the court docket.

Here’s a appear at 4 questions with two video games down and 80 much more to go:

Brooklyn Nets (1-1):

Ought to the Nets be anxious there have been stretches when they have appeared much from the workforce anticipated to win it all?

The Nets have gotten off to alarming consecutive gradual begins and were being outhustled and bodily pushed about by the Milwaukee Bucks in the year opener, a 127-104 decline. In buy to earn their initial recreation of the period in Philadelphia, the Nets essential a triple-double from Kevin Durant, a throwback match from LaMarcus Aldridge, a 16-1 closing operate and various late 3-stage airballs from Sixers guard Danny Eco-friendly.

“It’s not heading to be really for a very little even though here,” mentor Steve Nash cautioned just after the acquire.

Nash is preaching endurance as he utilizes the start off of the common year virtually like an extended preseason to experiment with major lineups and distinct rotations, all while Irving sits out right until he complies with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The Nets’ veteran-ladened roster is also building its conditioning as Brooklyn attempts to stay healthy.

There have been a couple of early developments that might be huge for the Nets. Guard Patty Mills appears like an early sixth person applicant producing the most of Irving’s absence. He has not skipped from deep, drilling his to start with 10 3-level pictures. And Aldridge will not be the Path Blazers (four-time All-Star with Portland) edition of himself, but he is capable of a 23-stage outburst like the a person he experienced versus heart Joel Embiid and the Sixers, and that is a substantial difference-maker for the Nets.

How has Kyrie Irving’s absence impacted Kevin Durant and James Harden?

When Nash was asked how Durant and Harden have tailored to enjoying with 10 new teammates, the Nets’ coach pointed out the glaring lacking piece from Brooklyn’s championship puzzle.

“We dropped a major piece,” Nash mentioned in reference to Irving. “It is not just the new pieces, it truly is the void that we are utilised to participating in with. It is a lot for us to take on at this second in time. But hopefully in the months coming, we start off to very clear some of the debris so to discuss and figure out how we can greatest participate in together.”

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Having two superstars in Durant and Harden to obvious the route assists. Friday night time was a fantastic case in point of how Durant and Harden will have to modify match to match devoid of their beginning issue guard. Durant opened the activity aggressively scoring. But then he reported he felt the have to have to attack the paint and develop for teammates thanks to what the Sixers’ protection was giving him. He finished with his 2nd triple-double as a Net.

“Each video game is diverse,” Durant mentioned. “We all know some of these contending groups like actual physical participate in defensively, they are so functional defensively. So likely into the recreation, I have received to just be well prepared to do something.”

Harden will be tasked with a lot more playmaking. Nash explained Harden may aid extra with the starters although remaining a extra intense scorer with the second unit. By two game titles, Harden is averaging 20 details, 8 helps and 7.5 rebounds, and the experience is he will only get better as he builds his way again from his hamstring harm final postseason.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets will have to alter as Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are both out indefinitely. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Pictures

Philadelphia 76ers (1-1):

Will oft-injured Embiid remain balanced this period?

It took one particular recreation for the a single steady topic about the 76ers in the latest seasons — apart from utmost chaos, anyway — to return to the fore: will Embiid be able to perform?

Immediately after Philadelphia’s 20-point victory in New Orleans on Wednesday, Embiid was stated as questionable for Friday’s match due to suitable knee soreness. Even though Embiid wound up participating in, he was evidently laboring throughout the match, and explained afterward he in all probability must not have taken the ground.

“We will see,” Embiid claimed when questioned if he’d have to skip game titles shifting ahead because of the knee. “I mean, just after past sport, that was a really superior strike by the major fella, but we will see how it feels tomorrow but I’m not scheduling on sitting down. I want to continue to keep playing as long as there is not any major destruction on it.”

Embiid, on a for each-moment foundation, was arguably the NBA’s most effective player past year. If not for missing 21 game titles previous season since of numerous injuries, he might have gained the league’s Most Important Player award.

With the status of Simmons up in the air indefinitely, Philadelphia requirements Embiid on the courtroom now much more than ever. His health could be the difference involving the 76ers acquiring house-courtroom edge in the initially spherical of the playoffs or possibly getting in hazard of remaining in the engage in-in event.

Who will be Philadelphia’s closer?

This problem has followed the 76ers around for several years. It was just one they briefly answered by investing for All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, and Philadelphia has unsuccessful to uncover an additional since buying and selling him away two years back.

The concern of a nearer surely reared its head in this sport, as Philadelphia’s offense sunk into quicksand down the extend with Embiid hobbled. The Sixers skipped nine straight shots to stop the game, while Harden and Durant created performs to drag Brooklyn again into the game and to a earn.

“We received the lead by taking part in,” 76ers mentor Doc Rivers stated. “We finished the sport by keeping the ball, and we are just not that sort of crew. That is not who we are. We really don’t have the playmakers that can do that.

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“[The Nets] have the capacity to give the ball to Durant, he can dance 1-on-1, Harden can do that. We truly don’t have that form of crew, so we have to get ours by way of movement and movement, and we have to hold believing that.”

Which is a bit of an indictment of Tobias Harris, whom the 76ers gave $180 million two many years back and, successfully, selected to maintain more than Butler. Harris experienced a strong video game Friday, finishing with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 helps. But when Philadelphia required a bucket down the extend, neither he nor Embiid could supply one.

It truly is also one that Simmons, notoriously tranquil in the fourth quarter, will not likely fix, possibly, if he returns. If Philadelphia needs to be a correct championship contender, it at some point has to handle that.