Sixers-Nets Starts New Chapter, Reviewing Rivalry’s Highs & Lows

Jared Dudley, Joe Harris

Getty Former Nets player Jared Dudley was the agitator to end all agitators during the 2019 NBA playoffs.

The rivalry between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets has been rather lop-sided over the years. The Sixers own an impressive 117-85 series advantage stemming back to the Nets days in New Jersey.

But this year feels completely different, right? Brooklyn is determined to “buy a championship” (via the great Julius Erving) and the Nets have been blowing teams out by double digits thanks to their Big Three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant. That likely won’t be the case when the Sixers and Nets meet tonight in Philadelphia. Harden (hamstring) and Irving (personal) have been ruled out, along with big man LaMarcus Aldridge (illness). Expect a show even without those guys.

“It’s tough when they have everybody. It’s tough when they have nobody,” Sixers veteran Danny Green said. “It’s tough when they have half their guys, but you never get a real feel, it might be a strategic thing for them. When I was in San Antonio, sometimes we didn’t play everybody so that teams don’t know how to guard us, how to play us … but I just think for them it’s unfortunate they have just had some injuries and have had some guys with family issues going on so that sucks. But they’re a tough matchup regardless if they have everybody or if they have nobody.”

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Shades of Sixers-Nets 2019 Playoffs?

While the names on the Brooklyn jerseys were a lot different in 2019, the intensity was something to behold. The Sixers and Nets staged an epic first-round playoff series that year, one that Philadelphia won in five games.

However, it was filled with its fair share of drama and highlighted by Joel Embiid leveling Jarrett Allen in Game 2. Then Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler got tossed in Game 4 after a shoving match reached the stands. Dudley was public enemy number one throughout the series for his trash-talking of Ben Simmons.

There are a few holdovers from 2019 in Brooklyn, namely Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie. Meanwhile, Philadelphia returns Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, and Furkan Korkmaz from that series.


Sixers Players Talk Nets Rivalry

The Nets registered at No. 3 on a list of Philly’s “most despised” basketball rivals in a 2012 Bleacher Report article, falling right behind the New York Knicks (No. 2) and Boston Celtics (No. 1). But maybe the Sixers should thank the Nets for giving them Julius “Dr. J” Erving after they bought his contract from the franchise in 1976. The Nets won two ABA championships with Erving but haven’t hoisted the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Trophy since losing him.

And the ghosts of yesteryear are sure to haunt the 2021 edition of the Nets-Sixers rivalry. Earlier this week, Sixers players commented on what could be the new marquee rivalry in the Eastern Conference. Everyone is taking it one game at a time.

“I think it’s more than a rivalry game because there’s a No. 1 seed in play,” Embiid said. “We got a tiebreaker, that we need. They’ve been playing well. We’ve been playing well. We’ve been winning games. They’ve been winning games. No one seemed to want to lose any game so you never know.”


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