76ers

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

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

After an exciting NBA trade deadline (in which the Sixers acquired five new players!) an Elton Brand press conference, and a Moses Malone statue unveiling at Legends Walk (and a jersey retiring to happen this evening), can you believe there is still a game to play?

And it is a big one. The Sixers (34-20) are taking on a team that currently stands at second place in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets (37-17), at Wells Fargo Center. There are so many storylines to follow, it’s hard to keep it to just three. First, here are the essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center 
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines:

New core

It’ll be the first glimpse of Tobias Harris in the Sixers' starting lineup, alongside Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick. Keep in mind that this group will have had zero practice time together, but getting to see the future of the new core, and how these guys feed off each other is definitely going to be the highlight of this one.

New bench

The Sixers added Mike Scott, James Ennis, Jonathon Simmons and Boban Marjanović to their bench. One of the biggest criticisms of this team had been their lack of bench depth, especially at the wing. With the new construction of this roster, we’ll get our first look into whether this bench is better equipped come playoff time. (Ennis is still in the process of being cleared for tonight’s game, while Simmons will not play, according to a team source).

And then there’s Denver … and Nikola Jokic!

The fans are still starved for that Jokic vs. Joel Embiid matchup! The last time these two teams played, the Sixers rested Embiid, and fell 126-110 in Denver. Jokic came out aggressive, posting 17 points and seven rebounds in the first. You better believe Embiid has this one circled. Prior to resting against Denver a few weeks ago, Embiid said, “You best believe that if I play, I'm going to go crazy."

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Sixers suffer 2 losses in Toronto as Josh Richardson exits with injury against Raptors

Sixers suffer 2 losses in Toronto as Josh Richardson exits with injury against Raptors

The Sixers’ modest road winning streak has come to an end.

They fell Wednesday night to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena, 107-95, snapping a run of two straight away wins and four straight victories overall.

The defeat drops them to 29-17 this season, 5-3 since Joel Embiid has been sidelined because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. The Sixers, who next play the Lakers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, haven’t won a regular-season game in Toronto since Nov. 10, 2012. 

Here are observations on the loss: 

Another starter suffers an injury 

With 8:08 to go in the first quarter, Brett Brown called a timeout as Josh Richardson grabbed at his left hamstring. The Sixers’ guard left the game with a left hamstring strain and did not return. 

Richardson came into Wednesday’s game averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His perimeter defense, shot creation and pick-and-roll ability have been valuable skills. 

The 26-year-old missed six games in a row from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 because of right hamstring tightness. 

Richardson’s replacements 

Shake Milton entered when Richardson left, his 13th NBA appearance this season. The second-year player started brightly, sinking a three-pointer from the right wing on his first shot. 

However, Milton only made 2 of his next 9 shots and was outmuscled on a couple of plays. He was passable overall in a tough spot. 

Furkan Korkmaz chipped in 17 points (6 of 13 shooting) off the bench, his fifth straight game in double figures. This was one of Korkmaz’s better defensive efforts, too. 

The Sixers also looked to Tobias Harris to fill the scoring void without Richardson. Harris had a team-high 22 points on 18 shots.

Al Horford faded after hitting a couple of early jumpers and shot 3 for 11.

Turnover problems for Simmons

After his 34-point triple-double Monday night in Brooklyn, Ben Simmons could not meet that same extremely high level again.

Though Simmons was aggressive on the offensive boards and had 10 assists, he also turned it over six times in the first half, which enabled the Raptors to get back into the game after they trailed by 14 points in the first quarter. The turnovers were a combination of the Raptors simply doing a good job of walling Simmons off in the open floor and Simmons either being slow to make a decision when encountering a set defender or choosing the wrong pass. To Simmons’ credit, he’d only averaged 2.1 turnovers over his previous nine games.

The other main reasons the Sixers’ lead evaporated in the second were that they missed a lot of the open three-point looks they’d made in the first period and didn’t get to the foul line enough. They shot 2 of 9 from three and scored 15 second-quarter points, while Harris was the only Sixer besides Simmons to attempt a free throw in the first half. 

A first loss with Thybulle starting 

Matisse Thybulle started for his fifth straight game but left after just three minutes when he picked up his second foul on a Kyle Lowry pump fake, leaving his feet and making the sort of mistake he’s talked about learning to avoid.

Thybulle is usually a peripheral offensive player and has struggled with his shot since returning from his right knee injury — although he did knock down two fourth-quarter threes. Still, he’s shown a consistent ability to start and finish fast breaks, like he did early in the third quarter when he stole the ball and blazed past the lumbering Marc Gasol for a dunk. 

The duo of Thybulle and Simmons seemed to get their hands on every other pass the Raptors tried during a stretch early in the third.

The Sixers are now 7-1 when Thybulle starts.

Pelle’s final day — for now 

Norvel Pelle played in Wednesday’s game, meaning he’s used up every one of the 45 NBA days he’s allotted under his two-way contract. He had one point, four rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes.  

Though the Sixers opted against converting Pelle to a NBA deal because of their desire to maximize flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, he could still get an NBA spot with the Sixers if a roster slot ultimately becomes open.

For now, the energetic, rim-protecting rookie is in an odd limbo and must stay with the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G-League affiliate. 

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Josh Richardson forced to leave game vs. Raptors with hamstring injury

Josh Richardson forced to leave game vs. Raptors with hamstring injury

The Sixers are now down two starters.

Josh Richardson was forced to leave Wednesday night's game vs. the Raptors with a left hamstring strain. He played just four minutes and will not return.

Richardson missed six games earlier this season with a right hamstring tightness.

The team is already missing Joel Embiid, who missed his eighth straight game Wednesday after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ring finger.

With Richardson out, Brett Brown turned to little-used guard Shake Milton. This is the second-year pro's first meaningful game action since late November.

We'll have more information as it becomes available.

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