Nets, 76ers battling for conference supremacy

This tie will be broken on the scoreboard.

The Nets and 76ers will bring identical records into their third and final meeting of the regular season Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Eastern Conference co-leaders both are 37-17 with 18 games to go after the Nets’ 127-97 win over the Timberwolves on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

“We’re going for the past champs, the Lakers,” 76ers guard Ben Simmons said. “They were the ones who won a championship, so you got to give the respect to them. Obviously, Brooklyn has a lot of talent. But at the end of the day, there’s only one ball and you have to play defense, too.”

Coach Steve Nash described the defending champion Lakers last month as “the team to beat” — even before the Lakers rolled to a win at Barclays Center without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Nets versus the 76ers could be an Eastern Conference finals preview, but the Bucks, Heat and others might have something to say about that in the playoffs.

“I don’t think we will blow it out of proportion,” forward Joe Harris said. “Obviously we know the implications in terms of the standings. It’s just another test, another opportunity to get better.”

Ben Simmons defends James Harden during a Nets-76ers game in February.
Ben Simmons defends James Harden during a Nets-76ers game in February.
NBAE via Getty Images

The 76ers had off Monday and the Nets were supposed to play, but Monday’s game was rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon following the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old black man Daunte Wright in suburban Minneapolis. From the comparatively insignificant basketball sense, games on back-to-back days are a competitive disadvantage because Nash also is trying to manage the injury recoveries of Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant.


“It does change our approach to everything,” Nash said. “I don’t think we’re going to make any definitive decisions now. I think we’ll wait and see what [Wednesday] morning holds, but we know that we weren’t trying to play guys in back-to-backs, and so we’ll have to digest all of the variables.”

If he were to be limited to one game in back-to-backs, the Nets could have sat Durant against the Timberwolves and saved him for the 76ers.

“I want to play just to get back in the swing of things more so than pinpointing that matchup,” Durant said. “We want to get everyone healthy and acclimated to what we are doing. I think that’s just as important as circling the calendar for Philly.”

Nic Claxton made his first career start Tuesday and Chris Chiozza made his first start of the season, marking the 28th different starting combination used by the Nets. Only the lowly Rockets have used more. Chiozza injured his right hand and did not play in the second half.


Chiozza injured his right hand and did not play in the second half, joining James Harden (hamstring strain), Kyrie Irving (personal reasons) and Tyler Johnson (knee) as unavailable point guards.

Nash retired in 2015 after a Hall of Fame point guard career. Could he be a player/coach?

“I’d be great for four or five minutes, and then the wheels would fly off all over the gym,” Nash said. “So I think we will save the world that horror show.”

Durant went 4-for-6 in 3-pointers, moving into 27th place alone in NBA history with 1,626 3-pointers made, and breaking a tie with Eric Gordon. Next up on the list? Nash, who made 1,685 from behind the arc in his career.

DeAndre Jordan bear-hugged Landry Shamet during Shamet’s postgame interview with YES Network. How powerful is Jordan? He broke the microphone because Shamet could no longer hear the questions.