Knowing Ben Simmons’ history with the Philadelphia 76ers, seeing the Sixers take on his current team, the Brooklyn Nets, would be an exciting matchup, particularly if Simmons matches up with former teammate Joel Embiid. Sixers guard Shake Milton issued his confidence in how Embiid would do in that matchup.
“We like that matchup,” Milton told reporters on January 24, per Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated. “We’re gonna throw him the ball and let him go to work for sure.”
Milton then made it clear that he believes Embiid has the advantage no matter who he’s matched up with, whether that’s against Simmons or not.
“I mean, we like Jo against anybody, honestly,” Milton said. “So it really doesn’t matter. Obviously, there’s a lot of hype around it, the matchup and the teams and everything that’s going on, but for us, it’s just gonna be about getting another win, honestly.”
Though Milton sees the Nets as just another opponent, he understood what it means to Philadelphia.
“Obviously, for the city, it means a little more,” Milton said regarding the matchup. “I know they’re gonna come with a lot of energy. So it’s gonna be exciting, and it’s gonna be a fun game. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Durant’s Thoughts on Nets-Sixers Rivalry
Because the Nets and the Sixers play in the same division, and because the two of them are among the top teams in the east, they are considered. However, Kevin Durant does not take much stock in their rivalry or rivalries in general.
“Rivalries in the NBA are not really a thing, in my opinion,” he told reporters, per The Boston Herald. “It’s going to be a battle amongst each fan base on social media, but as far as the players, it’s another game on the schedule, and each team is trying to get better and improve.”
That sentiment could change should the two meet up in the playoffs this season, and given all that went down on both sides before they agreed to the James Harden trade, there could be more at stake should they face off. Especially if they meet in the later rounds.
Jacque Vaughn’s Thoughts on Nets-Sixers Matchup
Much like Durant, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn doesn’t see their matchup against the Sixers as a game between rivals. However, he does understand the importance of the game, knowing where both teams stand in the Eastern Conference.
“More than anything, it’s Philly is…above us in the standings, and I think that makes it important,” Vaughn told reporters. “You’re playing an Eastern Conference team, and you don’t know what the results are gonna be at the end of the year. I think at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
Vaughn’s words ring true because games between two of the East’s best teams record-wise have ramifications on how the playoff matchups turn out when it’s all said and done. This season is more than halfway over, so as the season winds down, the stakes only get higher with fewer games to play.