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Atlantic Division Rivals Clash In Brooklyn

Nets Eye Fourth Win in Row and (perhaps) Return of Harden

The Philadelphia 76ers try to snap a two-game losing streak when they visit the Brooklyn Nets in a Thursday night matchup of the top two teams in the Atlantic Division.

The 76ers are coming off a 101-96 home loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday, fall to 15-14 and 5½ games behind the first-place Nets.

76ers vs Nets
Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Brooklyn has been playing without nearly half of its roster due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, but ran its winning streak to three games with Tuesday night’s home overtime victory against Toronto.

The Nets improved to 20-8, leading the Eastern Conference standings by two games over  defending-champion Milwaukee and 2½ games over the Chicago Bulls.

If you want to bet online on this contest, the NBA lines have the Nets as 1½-point favorites in this one, with the over/under set at 216½ points.

76ers vs Nets NBA Betting Preview

The Philadelphia 76ers have been dealing with injuries throughout this season, starting with All-Star center Joel Embiid. Embiid has playing just 18 games, returning Wednesday after sitting out Monday’s blowout loss at Memphis with a rib injury. Against the Heat, Embiid finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Philadelphia needs a fully-healthy Embiid to be able to compete in the Eastern Conference. The 7-footer is averaging 23.8 points and 11 rebounds this season while limited in both the number of games he’s been able to play and in his performance when he is on the floor.

Forward Tobias Harris has also struggled to be able to play consistently, appearing in just 20 games. He’s averaging 18.9 points per game, scoring 24 in the loss to Miami. He’s also been solid on the boards, averaging 7.8 rebounds per contest.

Guard Tyrese Maxey has been Philadelphia’s most consistent performer, missing just one game this season with averages of 17.0 points and 4.7 assists. Maxey has helped the 76ers deal with the absence of Ben Simmons, taking over a lot of the ball-handling duties.

One-Man Show

With seven players sidelined for the Brooklyn Nets, including guard James Harden (protocol), the burden is planted firmly on the shoulders of forward Kevin Durant. Durant had triple-double in the extra-session win over the Raptors, finishing with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists after being upgraded from questionable just before the contest.

“I felt like it was something I could play on, so I knew I was going to play this morning,” Durant said after Tuesday’s win. “I hate that my teammates are out. I wish everybody was playing.”

Brooklyn may indeed be missing Harden again Thursday, taking his averages of 20.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 9.6 assists out of the Nets’ lineup. The team will also be without starters LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry.

Guard Patty Mills fill the void left by Harden’s absence against Toronto with 30 points, his fourth career 30-point game and first since joining the Nets. He’ll be looked to for more offense in this one as well.

76ers vs Nets Final Pick

Although Brooklyn is missing a great deal of production from its lineup (again Harden’s status TBD), it does have one of the best in the game in Durant. Philadelphia has had trouble putting things together even with a healthy lineup and they’ll come up just short in this one.

When doing your NBA betting, take the Nets to win and cover at home.

Pick: Brooklyn Nets -1½

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