Since updating their roster, the Philadelphia 76ers (34-20) will take on the Denver Nuggets (37-17) in their first game with their new acquisitions.
After a 12-point 119-107 loss at home on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia would trade for Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Boban Marjanovic from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sixers would send Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, two first-round picks, and a couple of second-round picks to Los Angeles.
Harris is the focal point of the trade, and when you look at his stat line, it’s understandable why: He’s having the best season of his career, eclipsing the 20 mark in scoring with a career-high 20.9 PPG — he also adds 7.9 RPG and 2.7 APG to the mix in 55 games for L.A. in the campaign.
The general manager of the 76ers, Elton Brand, pulled the trigger after a pretty lop-sided loss to the Raptors — a game that was supposed to be extraordinarily tight at the final buzzer.
Against Toronto, Philly would be without their guard J.J. Redick due to an illness. Joel Embiid would be his usual elite self, putting up 37 points and 13 rebounds, but the thin bench of the Sixers would expose themselves massively against the Raptors.
The loss to Toronto was just the sixth loss at home this season for Philadelphia, and other than the bench, it was also due to their dismal defense in that game.
“It’s not who we are, it’s not how we play defense, it’s not anything that we’re about,” Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown told reporters after the game. “I give Toronto credit. They drove it down our throat. We didn’t respond. Individually, I thought we were poor, just guarding our own man.”
The trade with the Clippers wasn’t the only big headline that the Sixers made after the Toronto loss, however. They would also end their growing frustration and confusion with Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, by shipping him to the Orlando Magic for guard Jonathon Simmons — they would also obtain first and second-round picks from Orlando.
Fultz played just 34 games for the franchise in a season and a half. He hasn’t played since November, currently partaking in therapy for thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) — a condition that compresses or irritates nerves and blood vessels around the lower neck and upper chest. Fultz dealt with injuries in both his wrist and shoulder from the very get-go as well, which explains only a few games played as a Philadelphia 76er.
Unfortunately for Fultz, the Sixers have run out of time and have officially given up on him. And not only did Philadelphia get Simmons, but they would also grab a top-20 protected pick in return with the trade.
Tonight, against Denver, the Sixers will look to get consecutive home victories against the Nuggets for the first time since the 2001-02 season — they would win three straight in that campaign.
For Denver, they lost in a hard-fought 135-130 battle on the road Wednesday to the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite the loss, Nikola Jokic was on point, as usual, earning his 10th triple-double of the season. On the stat sheet, he tallied 25 points (8-of-13 from the field), 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Denver would also get help from Mason Plumlee and Jamal Murray: Plumlee would tally a season-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting (he hit his first seven shots), and Murray would put up 19 points and 11 assists for a double-double — this coming back from a six-game injury.
After opening their four-game road trip at the Minnesota Timberwolves with a one-point 107-106 victory, they would drop their next two: 129-103 at the Detroit Pistons, and then 135-130 to the Brooklyn Nets.
Tonight, they close out their road trip with a final game in Philadelphia against the 76ers.
In Denver’s defense, they are currently going through health issues: Missing a fourth straight game was Gary Harris due to a groin injury. Also out with a sore ankle, the Nuggets have missed Paul Millsap for two straight games.
Still, that didn’t stop the frustration from Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. He would place all his starters on the bench after the Brooklyn Nets outscored his team, 78-52, in the second and third quarters combined.
Denver will look to rebound tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers, which is sure to be a playoff atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tip-off between the Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers is set for 7:00 PM ET and will be nationally televised on ESPN. Philadelphia enters as the -4.5-point favorite.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
CHECK THE NUMBERS
The Denver Nuggets hold two out of the four main line statistical categories, and they’ll need a hold of them as they come into Philadelphia tonight in what’s sure to be a playoff atmosphere. In offensive production, they lack with a -3 disadvantage at 112.0 PPG. When it comes to shooting, they take a very slim +0.1 edge hitting 47.2% of their shots. On the glass, the Nuggets go back into red slacking a tight -1 behind the Sixers with a figure of 47.1 RPG. Their other edge comes on defense: A solid +5 at 107.1 PA.
Not only do the Philadelphia 76ers have two out of the four statistical departments, but they also hold the homecourt advantage at Wells Fargo Center. On the offensive side of things, the Sixers have a +3-edge posting up 115.3 PPG. From the field, they’re in the red, but it’s only a minor -0.1 at 47.1 FG%. On the rebounding end, Philadelphia takes a +1 advantage at 47.1 RPG. Defensively, however, the 76ers take a nice-sized hit at -5 at 112.1 PA — which will be Philly’s biggest focus in order to rebound with a win tonight.
The Philadelphia 76ers come in with the homecourt advantage and as the -4.5-point favorite, and they also hold two out of the four statistical categories. But that doesn’t mean that tonight will be an easy win by any means for the Sixers — the Denver Nuggets line up well with them on paper.
The game will be decided by defense: Can Philadelphia stop Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray? And can the Nuggets stop the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? Whoever does the best job of that, wins the game. And remember: Denver has a +5 advantage in the defensive department, so keep an eye on that. But also take note that the Nuggets have struggled on this road trip, losing to below-average teams such as the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets.
As a result, you must give the edge to Philadelphia. That, and I also don’t think either team will do good tonight defensively, expect a lot of points. And if it does become a shootout like I think, I just can’t trust the Nuggets in that situation. Ride with the Sixers for the win. As far as the -4.5 spread, I wouldn’t take Philadelphia to cover that — tonight will be an absolute dogfight between two power teams in the NBA. Expect a close one to the buzzer. With the O/U at 231, it’s a risky bet to take with such a high number, but I’d go ahead and ride with it. With the potency of both teams, I can see both teams getting into the 120’s — I personally have 243 total points being scored. A bit of a risk, but more worth taking than anything. Take the over.