Brooklyn Nets Won't Have Kyrie Irving vs. Sixers on Thursday
For the second and final time this season, the Brooklyn Nets will make an appearance in South Philly to face the Philadelphia 76ers. During the previous three matchups against each other this season, the Sixers have been short-handed.
As their All-Star center Joel Embiid has dealt with sickness and a torn ligament in his hand this year, those setbacks forced the big man to miss all three previous matchups against Brooklyn. Fortunately, he's back in the mix on Thursday.
Now, the tables will turn on Brooklyn, as they will be set to take on the Sixers without their star point guard, Kyrie Irving. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, this is nothing new. All season long, Irving has dealt with a handful of setbacks with his shoulder and his knee.
This time around, the shoulder concerns came about once again. And now the nine-year veteran won't be available for the Nets upon their return from All-Star break against the Sixers. As the Nets will look to keep their relevancy within the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, the Sixers have a solid opportunity to help build on their ranking.
Heading into the final stretch of the season, the Sixers are sitting in fifth place, 1.5 games back from the fourth-seeded Miami Heat. There are high hopes in Philly for the Sixers as many feel a hot streak brewing after a long All-Star break.
The Sixers have a solid opportunity to get one going as they are set to face a short-handed Brooklyn team, who they have defeated two out of three times already this season. While winning on the road will be the Sixers' most significant concern for this upcoming stretch, at least Philly has an opportunity to build some confidence at home on Thursday.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_