Sixers Handed Second-Straight Loss Against the Nuggets, 104-95.
The Sixers ended a stint in the City of Angels with a 122-112 loss to the Clippers on Saturday. Philly had its fair share of defensive issues against a premier talent of the Western Conference. It wouldn’t get any easier, as the Sixers would take on Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets last night. Safe to say the Sixers lack of talent and depth at the center position was on full display in the Mile High City.
Having to play in the Denver altitude at the end of a six-game road trip wasn’t going to be easy, especially with Embiid still out. The first quarter was an example of that fatigue that resulted in sloppiness from the Sixers early. Lazy defense, careless turnovers, and Michael Porter Jr’s hot shooting did the Sixers in. Porter shot perfect from the field to the tune of 14 points that boosted the Nuggets to a 44-22 lead by the end of the first quarter. In fact, Denver as a whole shot a mind-boggling 67 percent from the field in that quarter. The Sixers starters turned the ball over five times and the game looked to be over before it even started.
The Sixers wouldn’t close the Denver lead to single digits until the final two minutes of the game, when both squads emptied their benches. This game showed just how fatigued the Sixers were from their road trip in the ugliest ways. No starter recorded more than twenty-six minutes, with bench players like Thybulle, Milton, and Scott seeing just as much time on the court. This resulted in Danny Green only taking five shots the entire game and Simmons only taking seven. Road trips can certainly be grueling, and Denver is one of the hardest places to play but there is no excuse for the lack of production from guys slated to be stars of this Sixers’ squad. All five starters for the Sixers finished with double-digit negatives in plus-minus. It got so bad, all five Sixers starters didn’t play the entire fourth quarter. Tyrese Maxey would lead all Sixers scorers with thirteen, with a majority of his buckets coming in that garbage time of a fourth quarter for Philly.
On the flip side, the Denver starters got anything they wanted against a gassed Sixers squad. Michael Porter Jr would finish the game with twenty-seven points, knocking down five triples in the contest. Nikola Jokic had a field day without having to deal with Embiid, finishing with a double-double of twenty-one points and ten rebounds. The star of the show though came from Jamal Murray. Murray was high man of the game with 30 points and made Maxey and Thybulle look silly trying to guard him on multiple occasions.
There’s no beating around the bush, this was one of the poorest performances from the Sixers this year. I understand that it’s the end of a tough road trip and your MVP candidate is still out, but the Sixers just looked outmatched in every facet of the game. Simmons lost all aggressiveness after picking up early ticky-tack fouls, and the rest of the starters didn’t have enough energy to guard any of the Nuggets stars. With how tight the top of the East is, every game counts for Philly with Embiid still out, and this performance was downright disappointing.
With the loss the Sixers and Nets are now tied for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers are set to complete their road trip Thursday in Cleveland. Coach Rivers hinted at the possibility of Embiid returning once the team returns to Philly, and it sounds as if new addition George Hill will make his debut shortly after. Philly is getting healthy at the right time, and all they can do now is reflect on what went wrong against the top teams of the West. For now, the Sixers will look to finish the trip on a high note against the Cavaliers.
Mandatory Credit: NBA TV, NBA