The Brooklyn Nets square off against the Eastern Division rival Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, but Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons won’t be playing for their respective teams.
The Nets desperately missed Irving in their season opener. However, the 76ers won without Simmons, the former No. 1 overall draft pick.
Early-season battles are always intriguing, but there is added intrigue to the Nets vs 76ers.
NBA betting lines have the Nets as narrow favorites, so the bookmakers expect a thriller.
Durant/Harden Combo to Fire
The Nets scored only 104 points in a 127-104 loss to Milwaukee on opening night, but it didn’t have much to do with Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Durant scored 32 points on 13-of-25 shooting and he also had 11 rebounds and four assists. It was a tidy double-double for the superstar, but it was obvious the Nets missed the dishing and scoring skills of Irving.
“We weren’t very good,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash told ESPN. “If you’re not playing at a high level against the champs, you’re not going to win.”
Harden had 20 points and was 4 of 8 from behind the three-point line. He wasn’t dynamic, but he did enough to get a pass mark. His shooting will improve, but he will have to work to get open shots against the 76ers.
“First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 20, 2021
Philadelphia plays tough defense, so Harden will need to use his speed to find open space.
Recent acquisition Patty Mills made up for the lack of Irving with 21 points off the bench. The sharpshooter was perfect from three, but teammates Blake Griffin and Joe Harris didn’t offer much.
The bench will also need to improve to beat the 76ers. Take away Mills and the bench scored just four points, so the onus on scoring is on the starters.
It’s not surprising to see the sportsbook installing the Nets as favorites. They are a public-heavy team and not many expect them to start 0-2.
Do the 76ers Miss Simmons?
Simmons was given a lousy one-game suspension for holding out, but he has now pulled out of this game with a back injury.
It seems like a poor excuse to not play, but we question whether the 76ers are better without the troubled player.
They didn’t miss him when scoring a 117-97 win over New Orleans on opening night. The paint wasn’t being taken up by someone who can’t shoot, so that allowed Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey to benefit.
ESPN Sources: All-Star Ben Simmons arrived and departed the 76ers practice facility today without taking part in a scheduled individual workout. His status for Friday night’s game vs. Brooklyn (ESPN, 7:30 PM) is unclear. As a team, the Sixers had no practice today.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2021
We loved what we saw from Tobias Harris, who could give the Nets something to worry about. He scored 20 points in 28 minutes and his size on the perimeter won’t be easy for the smaller Nets’ guards to handle.
Maxey made the most of his chance with 20 points. The point guard was a nice addition and he made a strong case to stay on the court, even if Simmons returns.
The 76ers’ defense is good enough to limit the scoring of the Nets, so they’ll rely on that to stay in contention.
Nets vs 76ers Betting Trends
It’s not good news for the Nets, who are 1-5 against the spread in the last six meetings in Philadelphia.
The 76ers are an excellent home team, so with the Nets struggling to win on the road, there could be value in betting online markets.
The Nets are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings overall, and 3-8 in their last 11 Friday games.
Philadelphia is 37-16-1 ATS in its last 54 games as a home underdog, so bettors are getting value odds.
Nets vs 76ers Pick
It’s not easy to bet against the Nets, especially after losing their first game, but the value is with the 76ers.
They scored well as a team against New Orleans, and although the Pelicans weren’t much in the way of opposition, it was still a complete team effort.
The 76ers are tough on defense, and considering the Nets rarely play defense, it should allow the home team to get the advantage.
The motto should read “No Simmons, no problem,” so we’re confident of a big 76ers victory.