The Denver Nuggets return to Ball Arena following a disappointing result in Dallas to face the struggling Philadelphia 76ers. After winning six in a row, they are now losers of their last five and most likely will be without Joel Embiid again. They may not be playing well, but this is still a talented lineup even without Embiid. Tobias Harris is a professional scorer, Tyrese Maxey is providing excellent offense for them, and Andre Drummond is a monster on the glass.
If Denver wants to prevent Philadelphia from stealing one, their bench will have to play much better. They combined for 16 points against Dallas and all had a plus/minus above or at 9. I thought the bright spot was the 11 minutes of playing time Bol Bol received. It looked to be his best stint as a Nugget. He was playing within the offense, boxing opponents out for rebounds, and his effort level seemed higher. His playing time hasn’t been consistent, but if he receives playing time tonight and capitalizes on it, he may be a fixture in Denver’s bench unit moving forward.
Who: Denver Nuggets (9-5, 7-1 home) vs Philadelphia (8-7, 4-3 away)
When: 7:00 p.m. MST
Where: Ball Arena
How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough) or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: Liberty Ballers
Expected Starting Lineups:
PHI: PG Tyrese Maxey, SG Seth Curry, SF Shake Milton, PF Tobias Harris, C Andre Drummond
DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Will Barton (day to day) Zeke Nnaji (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Danny Green (out), Matise Thybulle (out), Aaron Henry (day to day), Joel Embiid (out)
Three Things to Watch
Battle of the Boards
The 76ers are actually the worst rebounding team in the league right now at 42 a game but you cannot let a struggling opponent find any confidence. The shorthanded Sixers know they must do the small things well to win tonight, so look for them to be aggressive on the glass and target some second-chance points. Although collectively they aren’t as good of a rebounding team, Andre Drummond is one of the best rebounders of our generation and will be disruptive if he is allowed opportunities.
As I pointed out earlier, the Denver bench cannot lay a goose egg like they did last night. Unless the starters combine for 90 points, 16 points off the bench is rarely going to cut it. A Bol Bol sighting will be very interesting to await because he has not gotten consistent playing time but maybe his play against Dallas impressed the coaches. I think overall, PJ Dozier is improving offensively so I would not expect him to shoot 2-8 again tonight. The 76ers bench is not imposing either, so the Nuggets could have a real advantage there and they need to exploit it.
Who succeeds on the perimeter?
This pertains to both sides of the ball. The 76ers are the third-best three-point shooting team in the league at 37% while Denver is 28th at 31%. The defensive rotations must be concise in this one because Seth Curry is as efficient of a deep shooter as there is, and they do have others that can light it up from beyond. I think it’s important for Denver to at least compete in the three-point category because against Dallas, they made five more threes than Denver and that was just about the difference in the game.