brooklyn nets
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets put the entire City of Philadelphia in a body bag on Thursday night.

Ben Simmons is in the top two for most hated athletes in Philly right now and he’s not No. 2. Last night was like the Super Bowl of hate for Philadelphia sports fans.

Even though Simmons wasn’t playing for the Brooklyn Nets in this game, Sixers fans were amped up for the opportunity to chant “F*** BEN SIMMONS!” all night long. Our friends over at Crossing Broad were in the middle of the action.

This game had all the look and feel of a playoff atmosphere, but that wasn’t good news for Philly fans. James Harden entered this game as if it was the playoffs. He scored 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting and looked like he would rather be anywhere else in the world.

Joel Embiid came out with energy early, but he also decided to give up after one half of basketball. He finished 5-for-17 from the floor, scoring 15 of his 27 points from the free-throw line.

Sixers fans have been dreaming about this opportunity since the moment Simmons stepped away from the team. While there were a few boos and chants early from the raucous crowd, a good chunk of Sixers fans were shuffling towards the exits midway through the third quarter.

Keep in mind, the Nets didn’t even have their third-best player available for this game.

What Does This Mean for the Playoffs?

This game was about Simmons for a lot of Sixers fans, but the subplot to this night was Harden and Embiid vs. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Round 1 goes to Durant-Irving.

We might as well throw out the tape from this game because the regular season rarely serves as a predictor for the playoffs. In that sense, this game is nothing more than a random regular-season blowout.

With that said, Philly fans are receiving a glimpse of what they are going to have to look forward to in the playoffs. Harden won’t disappear in playoff games like Simmons, but he will put up brick after brick in an absolute stinker when it matters most.

He’s an all-time great player and one of the best scorers of his generation. Those are indisputable facts.

He also shoots 22% from three and 37% from the floor in five career Game 7s. The only NBA Finals Harden appeared in was when he was the sixth man for Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.

Remember, Harden forced his way off of Kevin Durant’s team so he would have a better shot at winning a championship. Good luck with that.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.