A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking.
Far-Fetched Friday: The Nets Take the Sixers to 7 Games
By: Khaqan Khan
After a tumultuous past few years, the Nets are free. They have nothing to lose. It's a team full of traded players with something to prove, facing a Philadelphia team that is all in with an injured James Harden. Led by the emergence of Mikel Bridges, the Brooklyn Nets will not be an easy out.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at a potential upset.
Since the trade that sent Kevin Durant to Phoenix, the Brooklyn Nets have been about .500 with a rotating lineup, with a real bright spot emerging in the play of Mikel Bridges. After being a marquee role player for the Suns, Bridges has relished the expanded role. Since joining the Nets, Bridges averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 27 games. His ability to get to his spots in different ways, including the midrange, will be an important counter to Joel Embiid playing drop coverage.
The rest of the new acquisitions are also worth a mention. Spencer Dinwiddie, Cam Johnson, and Dorian Finny-Smith are all great role players with 3nD reliability. They join a roster including sharpshooters and/or capable 3pt shooters in Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Yuta Watanabe, Patty Mills, and Royce O'Neale. That is important because, in today's league, 3-point shooting leads to so much variance. The Nets can steal games with just their 3pt shooting. The only problem is that they don't have a reliable creator.
The 76ers aren't the most trustworthy. Doc Rivers has a long, long history of choking series that he was favored to win. The on/off minutes with Embiid aren't great. Without Embiid on the floor, the 76ers are -1. The Nets have to win those non-Embiid minutes to have a chance. But also, is Embiid up to the task of bringing it every night? I lean yes, but it's not a confident yes. I just worry the 76ers might fall into some trap games. I don't know if I trust them to handle business. Not to mention, James Harden has not been the same since his injury. It might come down to Maxey and Harris having to bail out the Sixers against a solid Nets perimeter defense.
The X-Factor of the series is Nic Claxton, who has been one of the more overlooked storylines of the season as a dark horse DPOY candidate. No one in the league can slow down Joel Embiid, but if Claxton can stay out of foul trouble and not make it easy, he gives the Nets a chance to stay in the game. It will surely be a tough test for the young budding center.
The Nets have a team of players that don't suck and can shoot 3s playing with nothing to lose against a team with players and coaches that have had a history of tightening up in crucial moments.
However, one roster has Joel Embiid, and the other doesn't, so I think the 76ers will ultimately win, but it won't be as easy as everyone might think.
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