James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers wrapped up Monday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls with another win. Since Harden made his Sixers debut, the star guard has helped Philadelphia win in every game he’s played in.
Following the Sixers’ dominant win over the Bulls, they will get two days of rest before the highly anticipated matchup against the Brooklyn Nets at home.
Thursday’s game has a lot of hype surrounding it for obvious reasons. For one, former Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons is now a member of the Nets after holding out all season long. Although Simmons won’t play on Thursday, he’s expected to sit on the Sixers’ bench during the matchup.
On the other hand, the Sixers now employ James Harden, who had a short-lived run with Brooklyn after forcing his way there a little over a year ago. While Harden’s situation with the Nets didn’t get as ugly as the Simmons saga did in Philly, many expect a lot of tension between Harden and his former teammates on Thursday.
However, Harden doesn’t seem to see it that way as he shrugged off the idea he might be nervous to face his former team.
“I’m not nervous,” he said. “It’s basketball. I put the work in to go out there and just play my game and live with the results. Honestly, every game is a big game for us. We’re fairly new. We got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we’re playing.”
Prior to the blockbuster trade, which went down ahead of the deadline, the Sixers and the Nets were already forming a rivalry as things got chippy between Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant months ago following an intense battle in Brooklyn.
This time around, there are several factors adding more juice to the matchup. And with Simmons set to be off the court, Harden going against Durant and Kyrie Irving will be the battle that will have all eyes on it.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.