By Connor Thomas
The NBA has always been a league in which drama seems to fester. Throughout the course of a season, the reality tv show that is professional basketball is rarely short for storylines. But last night’s contest between the Sixers and the Brooklyn Nets had plenty of intrigue, most of it outside of what was happening on the court. It had been known for a couple days already that Nets superstar Kevin Durant would not be available for Thursday night’s game as a result of being a close contact of an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19, but mere hours before the game, it was announced that the other half of the Nets’ dynamic duo, Kyrie Irving, would be sitting out for personal reasons. In fact, head coach Steve Nash did not even know Irving’s whereabouts prior to the game.
All of these factors considered, it seemed that despite being on the 2nd night of a back to back, the Sixers should be able to dispatch of a patchwork Nets team. Though the Sixers were missing sharpshooting guard Seth Curry as a result of an ankle injury, they were still favorites at tip off. From the jump, however, Philadelphia just seemed off. They shot a measly 39.6% from the floor in the first half, with only Shake Milton and Tobias Harris in double figures. As a result, the halftime score reflected a 14 point deficit to a Nets starting lineup of Caris LeVert, Jeff Green, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and Bruce Brown. Not exactly the ’95 Bulls. The Sixers did end up outscoring the Nets in the second half, 58-57, but never made the game feel close at any point past halftime. With a smattering of backups for both sides, Brooklyn cruised to a comfortable 11 point win.
The game itself was, if anything, forgettable but the news that broke postgame was certainly not. It turns out that the Sixers were made aware mid-game that the injured Seth Curry, who did spend the 1st quarter on the bench with the rest of the team, had tested positive for COVID. Curry left the court and headed into isolation, but Joel Embiid, who was sitting next to Curry on the bench, has decided to self-isolate and the team has been quarantining in New York since the end of last night’s game. It is uncertain where this leaves the Sixers, who are scheduled to play in South Philadelphia against the Denver Nuggets Saturday night, but it is hard to fault the team for their lackluster performance Thursday night now knowing that many players may have been distracted by the knowledge of a teammate testing positive.
No doubt, we will receive more updates in the coming days about the Sixers and their upcoming schedule. The Sixers did fall to 7-2 while the Nets improved to 5-4.