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Ben Simmons can cop 76ers followers’ boos in return to Philadelphia, says Kevin Durant

Ben Simmons will be on the bench, boos raining down from all corners of his former NBA home court when the Brooklyn Nets face the Philadelphia 76ers.

James Harden and Kyrie Irving will go head-to-head after their explosive partnership flamed out in just 13 months.

A month after Harden and Simmons were swapped in a blockbuster NBA trade, Brooklyn visit Philadelphia on Thursday in what’s more than just perhaps the most-hyped game of the stretch run.

This one is personal.

“It’s going to be loud,” Nets All-Star Kevin Durant said.

“I’m sure Philly fans and people watching the game and media think this is somewhat of a budding rivalry.

“So I imagine it’s going to feel that way.”

When these teams were last on the court together, Durant and Joel Embiid received taunting technical fouls in the final moments before Sixers centre waved the Nets off their home floor after a December 30 victory.

Things could be even testier now.

Harden has been terrific so far with the 76ers, who are second in the eastern conference after winning eight of their past 10 games.

Simmons still isn’t playing, bothered by a sore back when he tried to build up his conditioning to make his debut for the eighth-placed Nets.

But he plans to be with his teammates on the bench in Philadelphia, where some of the toughest fans in sports can let loose on the player the Sixers took with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.

The atmosphere could be reminiscent of the angry crowds that welcomed James back to Cleveland after his first departure for Miami, or Durant back to Oklahoma City after he left for Golden State in 2016.

“It was a different situation because I got to play and shut the people up every time I hit a jump shot,” Durant said.

“But Ben doesn’t have their opportunity right now.

“He’s got to just sit there and just take a bunch of people just being childish and throwing insults his way because he didn’t want to play basketball for them no more.”

But Durant said he wouldn’t offer any advice to Simmons, saying he’d have to experience it for himself and might even find some of it amusing.

“I mean, the guy’s making $40 million ($A55m) a year,” Durant said.

“You could take that for a couple hours, and I’m sure Ben has that approach.”

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