Admit it, you still want the series.
Hell, you probably want it even more now.
You still want a No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup of the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets in Round 1, even though the potential prelude to it was as underwhelming as "Battlefield 2042."
We all come to basketball for different reasons.
Some of you just want straight hoops — buckets, athleticism, dunks, tough shot-making, etc. Some of you want in-depth, coach-like film breakdowns of the game. Then, there are those of you who want a balance with a little of both, but not too much of either. Others enjoy narratives, stories that transcend numbers and what may really fuel certain things leaving us in awe.
And then, there are the particulars who just want the drama — transactions, rumors, business, who hates who — and that’s really what Thursday night was about for a ton of viewers who experienced primetime Sixers vs. Nets on TNT.
The first video some of us saw featured Ben Simmons getting heckled after leaving his hotel and boarding what presumably was the Nets’ team bus. It sounded like... he was back in Philadelphia.
Simmons remains out with a reported back issue and needs to ramp up his conditioning. He still might not be mentally ready to return — perhaps it’s all the above — but the All-Star did join the Nets in warmups, and was serenaded by the Philadelphia boo-birds both before and after the game.
Ben Simmons was welcomed with boos in his return to Philly. pic.twitter.com/5ZSktchthL— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 10, 2022
This is the city that booed and hurled snowballs at Santa Claus in the 1960s, back when it was cool to think a jumbo-sized, red-pajama wearing, high-flying, sleigh-riding, chimney-climbing, cookie-eating, milk-drinking, white-bearded Caucasian dude existed.
So Simmons, justified or not, wasn’t going to be off-limits at all.
In the actual game, Kyrie Irving hit the first memorable jumper — a stepback in Harden’s face. Harden retaliated with one of his own just minutes later, his most memorable moment of the night, if we’re keeping it a buck.
The keystone moment of the contest, while it was still competitive, featured Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid jawing at one another after Embiid shouldered into Durant and knocked him on his ass.
KD and Embiid going at it 🍿 pic.twitter.com/kicLbz1Ubw— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 11, 2022
And then, from there, it didn’t matter. The Nets outscored the Sixers 96-79 en route to a 129-100 victory, their biggest blowout win since Nov. 10 — a 123-90 Brooklyn road triumph over the Orlando Magic.
Quietly, Seth Curry might’ve talked more sh*t than anyone, and lit up his former team (his father-in-law's!) with 24 points and 5 steals while shooting 10 of 14 from the field and 4 of 8 from three. Embiid ended the night with an unimpressive 27 points and 12 rebounds on 5 of 17 shooting, though he made 15 of 19 free throw attempts. With 4 points in 29 minutes, Tyrese Maxey had his lowest scoring output of the season.
Now, let’s get to the others...
Sixers fans may have chastised Simmons early on and ridiculed the Nets throughout, but the night ended with them booing their own team, who is now 40-25 and third in the Eastern Conference (which will be a brawl until the finish). The Nets are back above .500 at 34-33, but are still just in eighth place and sit five games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 6 seed, so Brooklyn is running out of time to avoid a Play-In Tournament scenario.