76ers

Nuggets 126, Sixers 110: Shorthanded Sixers can't keep up with Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Nuggets 126, Sixers 110: Shorthanded Sixers can't keep up with Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

BOX SCORE

In the middle of a brutal slate of games, at the start of a four-game West Coast swing, and missing three-fifths of their starting lineup, the end result makes sense.

The Sixers fought but just couldn’t compete with Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in a 126-110 loss at Pepsi Center Saturday night.

The Sixers (32-18) were without Joel Embiid (rest), Jimmy Butler (sprained wrist) and Wilson Chandler (left hamstring strain).

Here are observations from the loss.

• Without Embiid and Butler, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick needed to be at their best.

Redick rose to the occasion, hitting 9 of 19 and 4 of 10 from three for 22 points.

Simmons struggled as he looked to be more aggressive as a scorer. He also spent more time at the four while T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet ran the point. Simmons missed several point-blank layups and other shots he normally hits. He went just 6 of 17 from the floor for 19 points.

He also only recorded four assists, his lowest total since the Sixers’ 34-point loss to the Trail Blazers back on Dec. 30.

• How the Sixers felt Saturday night against Jokic is likely the way most teams feel about having to go up against Embiid. He can play on the perimeter, but can also be a bully on the low block. The Sixers tried to throw a few different looks at the Nuggets’ big man, but nobody was effective in slowing him down.

He had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the first half and recorded a triple-double with 32 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. 

The Sixers really missed the presence of Embiid as they were outrebounded, 51-40, and outscored in the paint, 74-40. You have to imagine the All-Star center will have Feb. 8, when Jokic and Denver come to the Wells Fargo Center, circled on his calendar.

• Corey Brewer has been a revelation for the Sixers. The recent recipient of a second 10-day contract, Brewer’s contributions haven’t really shown up on the stat sheet … until Saturday night. 

Brewer was aggressive early driving to the basket and finishing with authority.

He finished with 20 points, his highest point total since March 16 of last season, when he recorded 22 for the Thunder against the Lakers.

Aside from his defensive tenacity and hustle, Brewer is showing how good of an athlete he is and also just how flat out fast he is. He’s given the Sixers a huge jolt. Just sign this dude for the rest of the season.

• The Sixers’ bench has struggled with consistency all season, but the players that were out there Saturday put out a hell of an effort.

Two-way player Shake Milton saw plenty of action. He was strong defensively and also nailed 3 of 5 from three on his way to a rookie career-high 11 points.

He also made a nice drive to the hoop, but was a little short on the shot. Later in the fourth, he attacked an aggressive closeout by dipping in and hitting a pull-up jumper. Milton, a 2018 second-round pick, has a few intriguing tools.

Amir Johnson lost his role as Joel Embiid’s backup this season. To the veteran’s credit, he was ready to play when called upon. What Johnson lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with being in the right spot on defense and making the right play on offense. He had an impressive block on a Torrey Craig dunk attempt late in the first half.

• Butler didn’t play for the third straight game, but is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday night vs. the Lakers. He saw a specialist in L.A. for his sprained right wrist.

Embiid was given a rest day, something the All-Star center doesn’t love, but is likely necessary to keep the big man fresh. Embiid running at full speed in April is more important than winning a game in Denver in January.

Chandler, who’s been battling health issues all season long, sat out with left hamstring tightness. The 12-year veteran missed the first nine games of this season with a left hamstring strain.

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Sixers' Joel Embiid named All-Star starter for third consecutive season

Sixers' Joel Embiid named All-Star starter for third consecutive season

Joel Embiid is again one of the 10 best players in the NBA, according to fans, a panel of media members and his fellow players.

The Sixers’ center was named an All-Star starter on Thursday for the third consecutive season.

Starters were determined by the votes of fans (50 percent weight), media members (25 percent) and players (25 percent). 

Embiid has averaged 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the 29-17 Sixers. He’s been sidelined for the past eight games with a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. If Embiid is unable to play in the All-Star Game, which will take place on Feb. 16 in Chicago, then Commissioner Adam Silver will select an injury replacement. 

Though his scoring is down from last season, the Sixers have still been a much better team with Embiid on the floor than with him off it.

He’s second in the NBA in defensive win shares per game and fourth in defensive rebounding percentage (minimum 20 games played, 15 minutes per game). Lineups with Embiid have a 99.5 defensive rating, while lineups without him are at 106.9. 

It’s been an eventful year so far for Embiid, who’s been suspended for a fight and subsequent social media barbs, called load management “BS,” publicly grappled with questions about how to balance maturity and dominance, and sustained a nauseating injury.

Though the Cameroonian big man has said he cares most about being healthy and at his best for the playoffs, he now has another personal accolade.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Derrick Rose? Danilo Gallinari? Addressing the latest trade rumors

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NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Derrick Rose? Danilo Gallinari? Addressing the latest trade rumors

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast presented by Wilmington University, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss the latest trade rumors, the latest injury news and the brutal schedule before the All-Star break.

• Do the Sixers have a chance to land Danilo Gallinari? Is Derrick Rose the best fit? Is Marcus Morris an option?

• Josh Richardson is now on the shelf. Who picks up the slack with the team down two starters?

• Have you seen the schedule before the break? Yikes.

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