The Philadelphia 76ers have their next big challenge coming up on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Brooklyn Nets are set to come to town. Unfortunately, Brooklyn's star Kevin Durant probably won't play.
The Nets, who are currently ranked third place in the Eastern Conference, two spots behind the Sixers, dealt with a lot of confusion on Friday night. As Brooklyn geared up to face the Toronto Raptors, they weren't sure if Durant would be available to play or not.
Moments before tip-off, it was reported that Durant would be ruled out due to health and safety protocols. In no time, that report was retracted as Durant could still play on Friday, but he just wouldn't be available at the start of the game. Durant checked in the game for 19 minutes on Friday, but eventually, he was pulled off the court again.
As it turns out, Durant was not allowed to play after all. And he probably won't play on Saturday night against the Sixers. According to ESPN's NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant will most likely not travel with the Nets to Philly, which all but confirms Durant's eventual absence on Saturday.
While Durant's absence can certainly create an easier matchup for the Sixers, the superstar's possible absence is disappointing. This early on in the season, the Sixers rank first in the East. While they know they're a good team, certain opponents allow the Sixers to find out just how good they really are. The win over the Los Angeles Lakers two weeks ago offered Philly some validation.
A victory over a Kyrie Irving, James Harden-led Nets would be no easy feat -- but Kevin Durant ultimately leads the Nets. Without him on the floor, the Sixers truly cannot predict whether they have what it takes to defeat Brooklyn's Big 3 or not.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_