The Philadelphia 76ers continue their Western Conference road trip when they battle the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on Tuesday night. The two teams are among the league’s top contenders for the 2021 NBA title, making this head-to-head battle a possible preview of the Finals.
Joel Embiid has missed the Philadelphia 76ers’ last eight games but his team has hardly missed a beat in the win column. Without the All-Star center and MVP candidate, the Sixers have won six of those eight contests. One of the two losses was a 122-112 debacle to the LA Clippers on Saturday. Even so, the Sixers still sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 32-14 record, a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets (32-15).
The Denver Nuggets tweaked their lineup with the additions of Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic and JaVale McGee from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both players arrived via trade deadline deals. In Gordon’s first outing with the team, he scored 13 points and the Nuggets demolished the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in a 126-102 blowout.
McGee should be ready to play if coach Michael Malone decides to insert him behind Nikola Jokic against the Philadelphia 76ers. With the All-Star center leading a healthy and revitalized Denver Nuggets at home, Ben Simmons and company could have a hard time trying to stop Jokic and co. from winning their third straight and fourth in five games.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Denver Nuggets Injury Update
According to PhillyVoice.com’s Kyle Neubeck, Joel Embiid has begun the conditioning process in preparation for a return to the Philadelphia 76ers lineup. He has already started on-court activities weeks after injuring his left knee against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 12.
However, the Sixers have not provided a new timetable for Embiid’s return.
The newly acquired George Hill is sidelined for the Denver Nuggets game. He is recovering from a surgically repaired thumb which has kept him from playing since the latter part of January. While there is also no timetable yet for his possible return to action, he will soon be resuming on-court basketball activities, as per Neubeck’s report.
Ignas Brazdeikis is day-to-day but not because of any injury. He was part of the three-team deal that included the Knicks and Thunder that brought Hill to the Sixers, but he is unlikely to be a rotation player for his new team.
Monte Morris’ strained left quad will keep him from playing against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. He will miss his 10th straight game but could be back in their next game.
Greg Whittington is questionable to play on Tuesday with a knee injury that appears to be recovering well. Even if he were available, he has rarely seen action and will likely not be part of Malone’s rotation versus the Sixers.
Part of the trade that brought Gordon to the Denver Nuggets, Gary Clark joined the team on Sunday. However, Clark may not be ready to play for the team at the moment and, just like Whittington, he isn’t likely to be a contributor.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineups
Mike Scott has been starting in place of Joel Embiid for a couple of games including Saturday’s loss to the LA Clippers in coach Doc Rivers’ return to his old stomping grounds. Dwight Howard will provide backup minutes at center.
Hill hasn’t appeared in any games since being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers so Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz should remain in the rotation as backups to Ben Simmons and Seth Curry.
The absence of Morris has given Denver Nuggets reserve guards Facundo Campazzo and PJ Dozier more playing time the last 10 games. They should continue to play behind Jamal Murray and Will Barton for Tuesday’s contest.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Denver Nuggets Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard - Ben Simmons l Shooting Guard - Seth Curry l Small Forward - Danny Green l Power Forward - Tobias Harris l Center - Mike Scott
Point Guard - Jamal Murray l Shooting Guard - Will Barton l Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. l Power Forward - Aaron Gordon l Center - Nikola Jokic