NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Philadelphia 18 39 20 34 111
Denver 25 36 30 25 116
6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST5:30 UAE (+1)02:3021:30 ET7:30 PM CTNaN:� , March 27, 2023
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 19,781

Without Joel Embiid, Sixers visit Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

According to STATS
According to STATS

Philadelphia 76ers at Denver Nuggets

  1. The Sixers won their meeting with the Nuggets earlier this season, 126-119, thanks in part to 47 points from Joel Embiid. Nikola Jokic and Embiid have matched up just twice over the last three seasons, with each team having one win in those games.
  2. Philadelphia has lost two straight games being outscored by 14 points and 17 points in each of their last two fourth quarters. Prior to this stretch, the Sixers had been outscored by 14+ points in the fourth quarter just once all season (-14 on February 5 at NYK).
  3. Tyrese Maxey scored 37 points on 73.7 percent shooting from the field in Philadelphia's loss to Phoenix. It was Maxey's second game this season with 35+ points on 70.0 percent or better shooting, which trails only Jalen Brunson and Zach LaVine (3 each) among guards.
  4. The Nuggets are coming off a 23-point win over Milwaukee. It was the third time in the last three seasons that Denver beat the Bucks by 23+ points in a game where Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton all played -- the rest of the NBA has combined for two such wins against the Bucks over that same span.
  5. Nikola Jokic boasts an effective field goal percentage of 70.8 percent in the third quarter this season. That is the most efficient mark in any quarter by any player over the last 20 seasons (min. 200 FGA).
  6. Michael Porter Jr. has made multiple threes in 12 straight home games. The only longer such streaks in Nuggets history were by Michael Adams (19 straight in 1987-88) and Dale Ellis (14 straight in 1995-96).
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Denver Nuggets got through one test and now they have another ahead of them despite the opponent being without its best player.

Denver (50-24) used a huge second half to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night and face another top team from the Eastern Conference when it hosts the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

Philadelphia (49-25) is coming off a 20-point loss at Phoenix on Saturday night, its second straight and third in the last four. The Sixers are four games behind Milwaukee for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and are in second place in the Atlantic Division.

One reason Philadelphia is scuffling is the absence of James Harden, who has missed three games with a sore Achilles. Harden leads the NBA in assists per game at 10.8 and is averaging 21.4 points a game.

Harden reportedly is expected to play against the Nuggets, but coach Doc Rivers said he will prioritize health with his point guard.

"You want them to get healthy, and you don't want to coach trying to push guys to play, put any pressure on guys," Rivers said Saturday. "We've got to be healthy when it counts. If that means James doesn't play Monday, I have no qualms with that. We need him back, but we want him back for the long haul. We don't want him in and out, especially at this point in the season."

A subplot of Monday's game had been Joel Embiid going against Nikola Jokic in a matchup of MVP candidates. However, the 76ers have reportedly decided to sit Embiid (calf) for precautionary reasons, given the density of their schedule.

Embiid leads the NBA in scoring with 33.3 points a game and had a statement game when the teams played in Philadelphia on Jan. 28. Embiid finished with 47 points and 18 rebounds in a 126-119 win.

Jokic, meanwhile, is eight assists shy of averaging a triple-double for the season and is coming off a 31-point, 11-assist performance against the Bucks. Jokic has won the last two MVP awards and appeared to be the favorite for a third straight before Embiid's recent play.

While Jokic winning the MVP would be a bonus, the Nuggets are focused on clinching the top seed in the Western Conference. Entering Sunday, they lead Memphis by 3 1/2 games with eight remaining, and a win over Philadelphia would get them a step closer.

Denver has recovered from a recent four-game losing streak to win its last three and can push that to five if it can sweep this quick homestand. However, coach Michael Malone isn't taking anything for granted.

"I worry about everything. I don't ever assume anything," Malone said. "I think with (eight) games to go, we've seen here in Denver the last seven, eight games some pretty uncharacteristic basketball for us."

The Nuggets clicked in the second half against Milwaukee, outscoring the Bucks 66-40. Jamal Murray, considered the key to a deep playoff run, had 26 points and is finding his stroke down the stretch but was happier with the team's defense.

"When we're playing defense at a high level and rotating, everybody knows exactly what they're doing, we're tough to beat," he said.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 27, 2023

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