MATCHUP AT A GLANCE
When: Friday, November 8th, 9:05 pm EST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Point Spread: Denver -5.5
Betting Total: 218
The 5-2 76ers head to Denver tonight to do battle with the 5-2 Nuggets. The Sixers make their way to Denver without their phenom point guard, Ben Simmons. Simmons will be sidelined for 3-4 games due to a knee sprain.
The Nuggets are coming off of 2 straight wins against the Magic and the Heat, while the sixers are coming off of a couple of tough losses against the Jazz and the red-hot Suns.
This should be a good matchup for both teams, as they have similar playing styles. Both teams focus on rebounding and defense, as well as transition buckets. Without a healthy Simmons, the Sixers will look to point guard Trey Burke to do all of the distributing. The Nuggets will lean on their most consistent player as well, combo guard Jamal Murray.
The Culmination of the Process
Trust the process. The now famous phrase that has been used over and over again the last several years to describe the Sixers. Well, that process started paying off last season and looks to continue to do so. The Sixers are just behind the Celtics, Heat, and Bucks for 4th place in the Eastern Conference.
While the Sixers offense has been right in the middle of the league in most statistical categories, it’s their defense that has been a difference maker.
They rank at the top of the league in opponents rebounds, assists, blocks, attempted threes, and attempted field goals. While they have improved from a year ago defensively, this is a team that looked built to defend from the get go.
Joel Embiid posted career numbers across the board a season ago, and doesn’t look like he plans to slow down. Embiid is averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists in 2019.
He missed the Sixers two contests before the Jazz game, which likely explains a 5 point loss to Phoenix. Embiid returned in the 2 point loss to Utah.
A Familiar Process
While the Nuggets weren’t a prime example of tanking to rebuild, they did follow a similar process to Philly. Just not as famously. The Nuggets are off to a scorching start in 2019, due in large part to guard Jamal Murray.
Murray is averaging 18.9 points, 3.6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. While Murray has received the credit that is due, center Nikola Jokic really hasn’t. Since being traded from Portland a few season ago, Jokic looks to be making the Trailblazers pay.
He’s not only averaging 15 points per game, but is also leading the team in assists with 5.9 per. Add in 9 rebounds per game to go with it, and you’ve got a pretty nice season for the big man so far.
The Nuggets have also improved tenfold defensively. They’re only allowing teams to shoot 42% from the field. Only 31% from deep. They allow the fewest points per game in the NBA, only 101 per contest. If Embiid is at 100%, they need to carry this into tonight’s game to slow him down.
Just Not Enough
Without starting point guard Ben Simmons, I just don’t believe the Sixers have enough on either end of the floor to slow the Nuggets down. The Sixers are 4-1 against the spread when playing the Nuggets over the last 5 meetings. 2-0 at the Pepsi center, but this looks to be a different Nuggets monster altogether.
BetOnline has the Nuggets favored by 5.5 points. The question here is, can the Sixers keep it close. While Embiid’s defense should slow Jokic down, they will miss Simmons on Murray. I look for the Sixers to loss this game and for the Nuggets to cover the 5.5.