76ers

Sixers vs. Nuggets: 3 storylines to watch and how to follow the game

Sixers vs. Nuggets: 3 storylines to watch and how to follow the game

Updated: 7:30 p.m.

The 17-7 Sixers will try to maintain perfection at home Tuesday night and earn their 13th win of the season at Wells Fargo Center when they play the 14-7 Nuggets, who have lost four of their past five games.

Here are the essentials: 

When: 8 p.m. ET 
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: TNT
Live stats: Follow here 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Fourth-quarter offensive woes 

The fourth quarter of the Sixers’ Nov. 8 loss in Denver was their worst of the season. They were outscored 35-13, struggled to create everything they got on offense and saw Nikola Jokic nail a go-ahead jumper with 1.2 seconds left and Josh Richardson in his face at the end of a broken play. To make things more painful, the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report deemed that, on the ensuing possession, the offensive foul call on Joel Embiid actually should have been a foul on Jokic.

Though that particular fourth period was especially bad, it hasn’t been a productive quarter for the Sixers’ offense overall this season. The team has a 102.9 fourth-quarter offensive rating, which is third-worst in the NBA, and allowed the Raptors to make the end of Sunday night’s game a turnover-filled farce, coughing it up seven times in the final 4:14. 

“Where do we begin? Some of the passing decisions, it's stuff you’ve just got to get better with,” Brett Brown said. “I’m not really too sure how to address some of it, some of it you just scratch your head and try to coach better and help them more. It is disappointing the way that ended because I thought for the most part, we played good basketball. It's just the way that it ended, you have a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth.”

Richardson’s return

Richardson will make his return to the lineup. Though the Sixers have gone 5-1 in the six games Richardson has been out since sustaining the injury on Nov. 27 against the Kings, they’ll welcome back his ability to defender smaller guards, a duty Ben Simmons has assumed more — and handled very well — recently. 

Before the game, Richardson had a big smile as he talked about being able to play again.

"I’ve been itching to go back out there for a while, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be smart," he said. "Just tried to take my time getting back and hopefully today goes well.”

The fifth-year guard won't be without limitations. It sounds like the Sixers plan to ease him back into action.

"We’ll probably be watching my minutes for the first couple games back but while I’m on the floor, I’m going to go all out," he said.

A blueprint vs. the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll defense 

The Nuggets hedged hard on the pick-and-roll often in their first matchup vs. the Sixers. A unit with Raul Neto at the point — Simmons was sidelined with a shoulder sprain — had success against that scheme in the second quarter. Kyle O’Quinn, who scored a season-high 11 points in the game, rolled to the rim, forced a help side defender to tag him in the paint and freed up the Sixers’ shooters. 

Furkan Korkmaz was frequently the shooter who profited, scoring 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting, and the Sixers’ bench outscored Denver’s, 37-12.

If the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll defense is aggressive again, the Sixers’ approach a little over a month ago in the second quarter is the way to beat it — draw help on the roll, move the ball crisply and make scrambling defenders pay by hitting open threes. 

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Actual NBA players hilariously voted for these 6 Sixers to make All-Star Game — which is a problem

Actual NBA players hilariously voted for these 6 Sixers to make All-Star Game — which is a problem

The NBA released the All-Star Game voting results on Thursday and as expected, some of the results are quite curious.

The voting process currently takes into account voting by the fans, players, and media, with the fan vote being counted as double. There are clearly flaws to this method.

Fan favorites like Tacko Fall can garner close to a million votes while his play on the court clearly doesn't reflect any All-Star bona fides. But there are some checks to a fan-only system. Player and media votes count for a significant portion of the voting. But there are flaws to that portion of the voting as well.

Some players clearly don't take the voting process very seriously.

Just look at some of the Sixers' bench players who received votes from fellow NBA players — to be an All-Star!

Marial Shayok - 1 player vote
Shake Milton - 1 player vote
Trey  Burke - 1 player vote
Matisse Thybulle - 1 player vote
Furkan Korkmaz - 1 player vote
Norvel Pelle - 1 player vote

Raul Neto, sadly, did not get any love from his fellow NBA players, nor did Mike Scott. Then there are the starters who received significant player votes: Tobias Harris (19), Al Horford (16), Josh Richardson (13). Those make some sense.

Joel Embiid was voted a starter by receiving a hefty portion of all three segments of the voting audience. The only other Sixer with a legit chance to make the team as a reserve appears to be Ben Simmons.

Simmons received the third most votes among guards in the East from the media, fourth most from the players, but a curious eighth most by the fans. More fans voted for Jaylen Brown than Simmons. OK, sure.

You can see a list of all players who received votes here. The reserves for the 2020 All-Star squad will be announces on Thursday night on TNT. The reserves are chosen by head coaches.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the coaches around the league aren't going to give Pelle the nod for all of those sweet blocks.



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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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