3 big things Nets need to prove to upset Sixers in primetime

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets points (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets points (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in primetime this week. 

The Brooklyn Nets might’ve completely demolished the Utah Jazz in their first game without Kevin Durant available due to his coronavirus quarantine, but the Nets will have a much steeper task laid at their feet this evening, as they will lock horns with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and a dominant Philadelphia 76ers team.

These aren’t the Brett Brown 76ers of yesteryear, however. Doc Rivers has instilled a new offense focused on ball movement and perimeter shooting, and the Sixers have raced out to a 7-1 start because of it.

The Nets will have a major challenge on their hands with the entire NBA world watching, as we’ll find out how Brooklyn will answer these three burning questions surrounding the team.

1. Is the new Bruce Brown-led perimeter defense for real?

Steve Nash completely overturned Brooklyn’s rotations, choosing to start Brown, who the Nets acquired from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for first-round bust Dzanan Musa, while relegating Landry Shamet to mop-up duty. While Brown’s minimal offensive output shows that he isn’t going to suddenly morph into Vince Carter, he provided six rebounds and five assists while playing stellar defense, all of which played into his +20 rating against Utah.

While his performance against the Jazz is commendable, he was facing a Utah team that doesn’t have a ton of lethal perimeter weapons outside of Donovan Mitchell, which made his first start less hectic than one might imagine. Can he repeat this performance against a 6-10 point guard in Simmons, the white-hot Seth Curry, and rookie sensation Tyrese Maxey?

2. Can Jarrett Allen perform well against Embiid?

Allen, who recorded 19 points and 18 rebounds in a dominant performance against Rudy Gobert, is starting to turn the corner and cement himself as one of the top two-way big men in the NBA,. However, even going back to his rookie year, he has struggled with bigger, more physical centers like Andre Drummond and Enes Kanter.

Not only will Allen have to tackle Embiid, who is playing some of the best basketball of his career while putting forth his case to be considered the best center in the game, but his “reprieve” will be Dwight Howard, who knocked Allen around early in his career, coming off of the bench. With Allen having leapfrogged DeAndre Jordan in the pecking order, it’s time for him to earn his contract extension against Embiid.

3. Can the Nets beat elite East teams without Durant?

As good as the Jazz are this year and have been over the last few seasons, they are hardly an impassable roadblock, as the mesmerizing handles of Kyrie Irving and Allen’s inside game were enough for the Nets to take them down. The Sixers are a completely different beast, and the Nets won’t have Durant’s impeccable shooting to bail them out.

This game will serve as a litmus test for the Nets. A loss will be extra concerning, as it’ll show that they need Durant to truly be considered contenders.