PHILADELPHIA – The poor street balance of the networks and the outstanding home advantage of the Sixers would make the game on Thursday a difficult task.
But after Philadelphia was bullied by Philadelphia in an irritable playoff series last year and blown out in two of its three previous matches this season, this game at the Wells Fargo Center can mean more to the Nets than most.
"Tough. We had a kind of tight game with them and two where they dominated us. And they're almost invincible at home, so we know it's difficult," said Kenny Atkinson. "A good challenge. We see it as an opportunity. "
These teams played this playoff series last April, with hostilities triggered by Joel Embiid's malevolent elbow on Jarrett Allen's head – and Jared Dudley, who attacked in defense of his young teammate.
Allen has made progress to assert himself against the larger, bulky centers like Enes Kanter and Andre Drummond, which used to roughen him up. Embiid, who came back from torn ligaments in his left hand on January 28, is the highlight of this group.
"I think it's a challenge," said Atkinson. "I think he took steps. I think the Drummond thing, he plays better against stronger boys. I think he took a step.
"He's 250 pounds now. When he came in it was 230. There is a big difference in his height. Big step in his aggressiveness. I'm curious to see how he reacts. But we have DeAndre [Jordan] behind him. That's nice. It is a luxury. "
After missing all three meetings with the Nets this season, Embiid is finally healthy. He has averaged 21 points and 10.4 rebounds since his return. According to reports, he will drop the splint on his injured left hand during the game and only play with tape.
"I wouldn't necessarily say I'm looking forward to what happened, but frankly he's back – I know his hand is still messed up, he's wearing the tape – so hopefully it will be a good matchup." Allen said.
“You can take out all of that, just the entire playoff series. If you look at it – Jared Dudley, especially Jared Dudley, who could forget that Jared brought the energy, and that cheered us all up. Even the fans got involved and even now everyone is excited. "
The networks are 9-16 on the move, where they will play 16 of their last 29 games. Philadelphia is 25-2 at home.