Nets vs. Sixers Recap: KD and Kyrie Dominate in Brooklyn’s Blowout Win Against Philly

The Brooklyn Nets have been struggling lately. With 16 games left and still incorporating players from the trade deadline and buyout market, the Nets needed some consistency. After a big win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, Brooklyn looked to build momentum and make a statement that they are still championship contenders. In their path was the Philadelphia 76ers. In what was the first meeting between the two teams since the blockbuster Harden-Simmons trade, the hype and excitement of the game was peaking. Despite the toxic environment and rain of boos, the Nets’ dynamic duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving put on a masterpiece performance and showed how true superstars play under the bright lights.

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The first quarter began with a cascade of boos and fanfare towards the direction of newly acquired Net and former Sixer Ben Simmons, who was out tonight as he rehabs and ramps-up from his back injury. On the court, the Nets took control of the game from the very beginning. You can tell that the Nets treated this game with importance and urgency. The Nets shot scorching hot from the field and played lockdown defense on the Sixers. Nets center Andre Drummond held his own against NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Irving took the task of guarding James Harden, putting him on clamps. The majority of the Sixers points came from the free throw line. The Nets raced out to a 40–23 lead, capped by buzzer beating three from Irving to end the quarter on a 14–2 run.

In the second quarter, the Nets kept their foot on the pedal. Durant, Irving, and Seth Curry continued their hot shooting from the first quarter—and it spread to the rest of the roster as well. The defense kept forcing turnovers that lead to easy transition buckets. Heading into the half, the Nets absolutely shellshocked the Sixers with a 72–51 lead. Former Net James Harden struggled from the field shooting 3/15 with 11 points.

Any hopes of a second half comeback from the Sixers was squandered early. The Nets forced two quick turnovers to start the third quarter and continued to pour in the scoring. Essentially, the Nets continued to show they were in full control and dictated every aspect of this game. The Sixers would see some threes drop from Embiid and role-player Tobias Harris, but the Nets would respond with multiple buckets of their own. The Nets continued to play physical and built their lead to a score of 102–70.

The fourth quarter was essentially garbage time as we saw the backups as well as rookies Cam Thomas and Kessler Edwards get in on the action. The Brooklyn Nets absolutely dominated this game wire to wire for the 129–100 statement victory over their division rival.

KD and Kyrie Shine Under the Lights

Unlike their former teammate James Harden, who put on a disasterclass performance with 11 points (on 3/17 shooting), six assists, five rebounds, and four turnovers, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving put on a show. Durant finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists while Irving finished with 22 points and five assists.

Durant and Irving both started off hot, as they finished the first quarter each shooting above 80 percent. Their hot shooting and aggressive nature on offense opened the floor for everyone and allowed a good flow of the offense. Their greatness in isolation scoring led to masterful play and lovely highlights.

For the Nets to go far and accomplish their goal of bringing a championship to Brooklyn, Durant and Irving will have to continue to lead and put on masterpiece performances. That may be difficult with Irving only available for four more games due to the NYC vaccine mandate, though that may change. Regardless, KD and KAI have shown how great they can play together and how they can lead this team through the storm. With costar Ben Simmons rumored to make a debut soon, the tide can truly turn back into Brooklyn’s favor after a rough two months.

Team Effort

As much as the victory brought focus on Durant and Irving, we can’t ignore the Nets supporting cast that helped bring this victory. Other Nets in double figures included Bruce Brown with 11, Patty Mills with 10, and James Johnson with 16. However, the most prominent was sharpshooter Seth Curry, who had a revenge game of his own as he poured in 24 points on his former team. Curry even had a swagger moment of his own as hit a three pointer in front of the Sixers’ bench and talked some trash.

The biggest takeaway from the team effort was the outstanding defense on display. The defensive tone was set early as Kyrie Irving took on the assignment of guarding James Harden and clamped him. As mentioned earlier, center Andre Drummond, also acquired from the Sixers, was able to hold his own against Joel Embiid and even got some blocks in. Though Embiid would figure out ways to score, Drummond made him work for those buckets. 

In continuing his phenomenal play since the trade deadline, Swiss Army knife Bruce Brown continued his stellar play. One can see Bruce flying across the court on both ends of the floor, and Brown forced several Sixers turnovers leading to great transition opportunities for the Nets. Defensive veteran James Johnson also had a solid defensive performance, getting four blocks off the bench and solid switchability. 

When Andre Drummond had to leave for a period of the game due to a possible ankle injury and foul trouble, youngster Nic Claxton stepped up and showed his versatility. Though initially tasked with guarding Embiid, Claxton showed how versatile he is as a defender, especially against the pick-and-roll. A trademark move of the high PNR done by Embiid and Harden, Claxton would thwart that play multiple times when it would be either stopping or blocking Harden on the switch, or sticking with Embiid before quickly rotating to protect the rim.

Overall, the continued big team effort stemming from the Charlotte victory on all facets of the game was the reason the Nets won tonight. If the Nets are to continue building momentum for a potential championship run, the supporting cast must continue with the high effort and play to compliment their superstars Durant and Irving.

Looking Forward

After the road trip, the Nets head back to Brooklyn to take on the floundering New York Knicks. Barring any changes, Kyrie Irving will not be available for the game due to the private sector vaccine mandate. Tip off will be at 1 p.m. EST.

Currently, the Nets are on a two game win streak and are back above .500 with a 34–33 record. They are still the 8th seed and would have to take on the Toronto Raptors in the play-in tournament to qualify for the playoffs. They are two games behind the Raptors for 7th and five games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers from the 6th seed and guaranteed playoff spot.