Nets’ focus ought to be on closing hole on 76ers

Nets' focus should be on closing gap on 76ers

James Harden will probably be on one facet. Ben Simmons will probably be on the opposite, seemingly with screaming 76ers followers in his ear.

Wells Fargo Middle will probably be loud, and Jacque Vaughn acknowledged Wednesday’s sport carries a bit of additional significance — however not as a result of the Nets and 76ers have grow to be hated rivals.

“Greater than something it’s [because] Philly is a sport … above us within the standings, and I believe that makes it vital,” the Nets head coach mentioned at apply Tuesday. “You’re enjoying an Jap Convention staff, and also you don’t know what the outcomes are going to be on the finish of the yr. I believe on the finish of the day, that’s an important factor.”

The Nets enter play because the East’s fourth seed, half a sport again of the Bucks and a full sport behind the 76ers. Vaughn needed the main target to be on the postseason outlook and never on Harden’s first sport this season towards the Nets, a staff he pressured his manner off final season, or Simmons’ second sport in Philadelphia, the place he turned Public Enemy No. 1 after he refused to report back to the staff.

Jacque Vaughn
Jacque Vaughn

There are all of the substances for these two squads to detest one another, together with a number of previous altercations between Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid. However Durant, who will miss at the very least two extra weeks with a sprained MCL, disputes any notion of unhealthy blood.

“Rivalries within the NBA will not be actually a factor, for my part,” mentioned Durant, who will probably be specializing in his rehab reasonably than touring to Philadelphia. “So it’s going to be a battle amongst every fan base on social media, however so far as the gamers, it’s one other sport on the schedule.”

The final time the Nets and 76ers met, on Nov. 22, Simmons was roundly booed at his former residence however performed nicely. The remainder of the Nets didn’t and did not knock off a 76ers staff that was with out a number of of its finest gamers, together with Harden, Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

Vaughn referred to as this matchup “completely totally different” than the final, and never simply because the 76ers will probably be more healthy.

“I believe for us the psychological area that we’re in as a bunch, fully totally different,” Vaughn mentioned.

If Embiid fits up, it might be the primary time he performs towards Simmons. The previous star teammates couldn’t make it work after Simmons performed poorly within the 2021 Jap Convention semifinals towards the Hawks, after which Embiid publicly criticized Simmons’ typically unwillingness to shoot.

Embiid, who missed the 76ers’ win in Sacramento on Saturday, is questionable with left foot soreness.

76ers capturing guard Furkan Korkmaz was dominated out with proper shoulder soreness.

The final Nets participant on the apply courtroom Tuesday was Nic Claxton, who continued taking free throws after his teammates left. Claxton went 6 of 15 from the foul line in Sunday’s win over the Warriors, who repeatedly fouled him at one stretch of the sport.