Preview: 76ers return home to face Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets
Less than 24 hours after going to overtime in a win against the Magic, the 76ers are back in South Philadelphia to host Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets are currently 40-28 on the season, good for the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Denver is looking to close a two-game gap between themselves, the Mavericks, and the Jazz for the fourth seed in the West. Back-to-back losses at home started a bit of a skid for the Nuggets, who are now just a game-and-a-half ahead of the T-Wolves.
The 76ers hold a 41-25 record, and after their close win down in Florida, now hold the second seed in the East thanks to tiebreakers. With both the Heat and Bucks losing over the weekend, the 76ers have an opportunity to move even closer for the top seed with playoffs just about a month left in the regular season.
It is also important to note that the 76ers are on the second leg of a back-to-back. That game went to overtime, meaning the team isn’t fully rested for tonight’s contest at the Center. Still, with the four days of rest the Sixers got last week, everyone should be good to go and we should see the two best centers in the league in Embiid and Jokic go at it tonight.
- Aaron Gordon (Questionable)
- Zeke Nnaji (Questionable)
- Jamal Murray (Out)
- Michael Porter Jr (Out)
- Vlatko Cancar (Out)
- Danny Green (Out)
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Embiid vs Jokic
The meeting that will set twitter on fire as finally arrived. Rarely do Embiid and Jokic get to play against each other being in separate conferences, and after missing each other earlier this year, tonight will be their only matchup of the regular season.
While the statsexuals will try and convince everyone why Jokic is the MVP, real hoopers will explain why it is Embiid’s award to lose. Regardless, it is important to appreciate both guys for what they’ve done this season.
Embiid and Jokic are two centers guys will model their game after for decades to come, and we get to watch them both in the same window. Nikola Jokic has already expressed his respect for Embiid’s game ahead of tonight’s matchup.
This will be the first time since 2019 that Embiid and Jokic have gotten to matchup against one another. Both men have taken serious leaps and bounds in their play since then, so predicting tonight’s matchup is somewhat of a difficult task.
Jokic has never had to guard a center that can score from anywhere on the court like Embiid, and Joel hasn’t had to guard a center with such elite facilitation like Jokic. All that matters at the end of the day, tonight two of the best players in the league battle it out in Wells Fargo Center.
Tobias Harris Stepped Up
In case you were caught up in Selection Sunday, Tobias Harris saved the 76ers from potentially their most embarrassing loss of the season. A clutch catch-and-shoot triple from Tobias gave the Sixers the lead with under 30 seconds in OT.
While many players have played above their standards next to James Harden, Tobias was one of the few that struggled to find his footing. Harris wasn’t comfortable in a more catch-and-shoot play style next to Harden, and shot poorly from the field for the past couple of weeks.
Against Orlando Harris finally got his first game of 20+ points next to Harden. Tobias went for 26 points on 10-18 shooting, which included 3-5 shooting from deep all coming in catch-and-shoot scenarios. As Tobias gets more comfortable back in that third star role, maybe Sixers fans can get the third star that deserved All-Star attention.
|Denver Nuggets||+2.5 (-105)||+120||O 223.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-2.5 (-115)||-145||U 223.5 (-105)|
The Nuggets and 76ers haven’t matched up since November, and nobody has seen these two teams play each other with both Jokic and Embiid in the lineup for years. In close matchups like this, I lean toward the home court team with less injuries, just how the NBA regular season works. I think Embiid will be too much for a slower defending Jokic so give me the 76ers.
Mandatory Credit: Garrett Ellwood.