CAMDEN N.J. — Even with Ben SimmonsNot participating in the Thursday night game between the Brooklyn NetsAnd Philadelphia 76ersPhiladelphia has a lot of excitement for the game.
Doc Rivers, the Sixers' coach, stated after Wednesday's practice that although he didn't like how the Atlantic Division rivalry began but he does enjoy rivalries in general. He believes that the Eastern Conference is very competitive and the NBA is in good shape.
Rivers smiled and said, “I don’t like how, let’s say, this rivalry started.” Let me just say that I'll not be able to take on all of that. But I do love rivalries. I love when the teams in the same conference are willing to play against each other and fight for their cause. It's great.
“The league's in a great spot right now. It is. If you look at East, there are six, five or six teams that could legitimately win it. The West is the same. If you're in the West, and you're Adam Silver, it's likely that you love the league. Because competition is good. Right? We want that. We want competition and a hard-fought game. That's a wonderful thing and we seem to have it in our league.
Rivers was referring specifically to his own team and the Nets. They will meet Thursday in their first meeting since the blockbuster trade that saw Simmons and Co. traded last month. James HardenGet swapped before the NBA trade deadline.
Harden will face the toughest challenge in this game. Joel EmbiidSince they started playing together just two weeks ago, the pair have had to face many challenges. Philadelphia is up 5-0 in games that the two superstars have played together, but they have not been able to beat opponents of their caliber. Kevin DurantAnd Kyrie IrvingThese are two of the league’s most elite scorers.
Rivers warned against reading too much in to a game. He said five games was too short a time for any kind of generalizations.
Rivers stated that Kevin Durant was an elite athlete. “Kyrie” is an elite. They are very difficult to guard when you give them the ball. This is not a secret. There are some very elite men here too. Both teams are likely still trying to figure it out. They've had guys in-and-out all year. They also help with trade.
“So, it's difficult to have a true measure after five. They are still fun to play. It's always good to play with all these teams. While I think a bit at the same time, you also learn a bit each time.
It won't be known Thursday how Simmons will play with his new teammates or against his old team. remains sidelinedWith a back issue.
Philadelphia is still excited for Thursday's game, and his former teammates have admitted that the contest means more to them than a regular-season match.
“Absolutely,” Sixers forward Georges NiangResponding to a question about whether it was more than a normal match, she said that it does. “I mean we're not going to hide and say that what didn't occur. There was a trade, we got James, they got Ben.
“I'm certain there's lots of anticipation for the fans, and there's plenty of anticipation from us, but when we're on the court it's another story. This is a conference rival, but it obviously means a lot more for the guys on our side.