Sixers Look to Snap Six-Game Losing Streak Against Struggling Nuggets
The Philadelphia 76ers will look to snap their six game losing streak against the Denver Nuggets tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Nuggets are struggling themselves, having lost five of their last six games after a (relatively) promising 6-8 start.
The Sixers will likely be without Jerryd Bayless and Robert Covington tonight, in addition to the typical absences of Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel. That leaves the Sixers without three players from their planned starting lineup, while also missing another player in Noel who has been a starter for most of his brief NBA career.
What: Sixers (4-16) vs Nuggets (7-13)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
When: Monday, December 5th at 7 PM Eastern
Watch: Comcast SportsNet
Projected Starting Lineups:
Sixers: Sergio Rodriguez, Nik Stauskas, Gerald Henderson, Ersan Ilyasova, Joel Embiid
Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic
(Note: Official starting lineups are released approximately one hour before the game).
Sixers: Ben Simmons (out, fractured right foot), Nerlens Noel (out, knee), Robert Covington (out, sprained knee), Jerryd Bayless (out, sore wrist), Jahlil Okafor (questionable, gastroenteritis).
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic (uncertain, left wrist), Gary Harris (out, sprained foot).
About The Opponent:
The Nuggets are in a similar position to the Sixers, in that they have a plethora of young pieces that they’re trying to form into a cohesive, balanced core to build around.
Whereas the Sixers are top heavy with elite talents like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Nuggets have more young depth, with players like Emmanuel Mudiay (20-years-old), Nikola Jokic (21), Jamal Murray (19), Gary Harris (22), Juan Hernangomez (21), and Jusuf Nurkic (22) all learning on the fly.
Jamal Murray, the Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month, had a four game stretch a few weeks back where he averaged 21.3 points and shot 56.5 percent from three-point range. He’s come back down to earth in a big way since, averaging just 5.0 points and shooting just 24.1 percent from the field (20 percent from three) in 20 minutes per game in the four games since.
The Nuggets also sprinkle in some veterans, such as Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Jameer Nelson into their regular rotation, making their 7-13 start to the season a little disappointing. Despite that, Wilson Chandler is having what is easily the best season of his career, averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game off the bench for the Nuggets, while Danilo Gallinari, healthier than he’s been in quite some time, has been showing off his well-rounded game to the tune of 16.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
The Nuggets rank 19th in offensive rating, 22nd in defensive, and have struggled to make the two-big lineup of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic work, having been outscored by 15.4 points per 100 possessions with both on the court at the same time. They’ve sent Jokic to the bench for the time being so he can play his natural center position, and so they can put more shooting on the court.
If the Sixers slow down Emmanuel Mudiay (or force him into turnovers), this is a game they should be able to win. Mudiay is shooting just 34.9 percent from the field and committing nearly 5 turnovers per 48 minutes in Denver’s losses.
Mudiay has taken a diminished role of late, with a usage rate of just 20.2 percent over Denver’s last 6 games, which they have gone 1-5 in. On the plus side, Mudiay’s turned the ball over on just 10.7 percent of his offensive possessions, much lower than his season average (17 percent). On the negative side, he’s averaging just 11.2 points per game on 33.8 percent shooting from the field in that span.
Still, Mudiay is much bigger, stronger, and faster than Sergio Rodriguez. While it may not be expected that Mudiay turn around his poor play of late, doing so would give them a big boost, and he has a matchup he should be able to have some success against. The Sixers will have to play strong team defense in order to not give the Nuggets an unexpected boost.
The Nuggets force the fewest turnovers in the league, generating turnovers on just 10.5 percent of their opponents possessions. Considering the Sixers are holy crap bad at protecting the ball (last in the league with turnovers on nearly 16 percent of their plays), if the Sixers can find a way to take care of the ball it will once again help their chances of breaking their six game losing streak tremendously.
What To Look For:
The Nuggets have had fewer turnovers than their opponent just three times in 20 games so far this season. The Sixers, meanwhile, have done so only once. That presents a rather unique situation for each team to win a part of the game that is usually their Achilles heal.
Especially with Joel Embiid‘s newfound ability to protect the ball (averaging just 2.7 turnovers per game with a turnover rate of just 14 percent over the last 6 games, compared 4.7 per game and a turnover rate of 23.5 percent over his first 7 games), the Sixers can hopefully compete in that regard tonight.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.