This week, the Philadelphia 76ers will head back home after a five game road trip to take on the Nets and Nuggets.
After going 5-0 in those five road games, the Sixers will look to stay red-hot this week.
Philadelphia has come up with some impressive wins lately, including back-to-back one-point wins over the Jazz and Lakers, then a 129-127 victory over Sacramento without Joel Embiid or James Harden on Saturday.
The hot streak has moved Doc River’s squad into the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They are just 4.5 games behind the Celtics for the first seed.
As the 76ers keep rolling, here is a look at the two matchups they have this week.
76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets
To start things off for the week, the 76ers will host a Nets team on Wednesday night that has become one of its biggest rivals.
There may be fuel added to the fire for Embiid in this game. For the first time, it looks like we will be getting an Embiid vs. Ben Simmons matchup.
After Simmons did not play for the Nets last season, he came to Philadelphia on November 22 with a parade of boos to follow.
That game was early in the NBA season, and Philadelphia was without Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey — undoubtedly the team’s three best players.
Yet despite taking on a fully-healthy Nets team (including Simmons, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving), the Sixers pulled out a 115-106 victory.
The game earlier this season will only put more fuel into the fire for these two teams.
On top of the Embiid-Simmons matchup, Harden will surely be out for revenge. Since the Harden/Simmons trade on February 10, 2022, Harden has only played his former team once. He had just 11 points in a Nets win last season.
Unfortunately, Durant will miss the game this Wednesday, as he is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained earlier this month. Brooklyn has struggled without its superstar, going just 2-4 since he went down.
However, the Nets have won their last two games. Irving has stepped up in Durant’s absence lately, as he dropped 38 points, 9 assists and 5 boards on Sunday in a win over Golden State.
There will surely be matchups to watch all over the place between these two rivals. Embiid, Harden and the 76ers will look to maintain their five game winning streak, and Brooklyn will try to steal a game against a good team without Durant.
76ers vs. Denver Nuggets
After a matchup against his former teammate on Wednesday, Embiid will certainly have the other Sixers game this week circled on his calendar.
Once again, on both an individual and team matchup level, the Nuggets-76ers game on Saturday night should prove to be entertaining.
In NBA talks nowadays, one of the biggest debates is all about the big men: Who is better, Nikola Jokic or Embiid?
Because these two teams are in different conferences, it isn’t too often we get to see the high-profile center matchup. Jokic and Embiid have played each other just six times in their careers, with Embiid’s 76ers coming out victorious in four of those games.
Jokic has won the MVP award for the past two years. Embiid has been right on his tail, finishing second in voting in both of those seasons.
Once again, these two centers are at the focus of MVP conversations this year — so you can be sure Saturday’s game will make a mark in those conversations.
[Related: Joel Embiid’s Case for the 2022-23 NBA MVP]
Jokic is averaging 25.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game, which all lead the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Embiid is putting up 33.6 points (which leads the league), 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
On top of the Jokic vs. Embiid matchup, these two teams have been among the best in basketball.
As previously mentioned, Philadelphia is the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with a 30-16 record. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are 33-14 and have a 1.5-game lead for the Western Conference’s top seed.
Saturday’s game will have two superstar big men competing to keep their respective squad near the top of its conference.
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