Two NBA heavyweights will match up on Tuesday night when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Denver Nuggets. The current Eastern Conference leaders will still be without Joel Embiid, whose absence was apparent in the team's 122-112 loss to the Clippers on Saturday.
Nikola Jokic will look to take full advantage of Embiid's absence against the Philadelphia 76ers, as he continues to build his case for the MVP award. The Denver Nuggets are 7-3 since the All-Star break with an offensive rating of 118.9, the best in the league since the break.
Fixture: Philadelphia 76ers vs Denver Nuggets | NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Tuesday, March 30th, 2021; 9:00 PM ET (Wednesday, March 31st; 7:30 AM IST).
Venue: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Philadelphia 76ers Preview
Despite struggling in the past without Embiid, coach Doc Rivers seems to have cracked the code to win in his absence. The Philadelphia 76ers have won six and lost just two since Embiid was sidelined. The fact that they have been able to hold on to the no.1 spot in the Eastern Conference standings is extremely impressive, considering the Bucks and Nets are hot on their heels.
Without Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers have had to rely on their defense to win games. They have a defensive rating of 101.9 in their last ten matchups. They also gave up the least second chance points to opponents with just 9.3 per game.
Key Player - Tobias Harris
With no Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers' third star, Tobias Harris, has had to take on the brunt of the scoring. His numbers across the board have jumped over the last eight games, averaging 24 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5 assists.
Harris will be an essential part of the Philadelphia 76ers' success this year in the playoffs. His scoring efficiency per 36 minutes is at a career-high, while both his offensive and defensive ratings are also the best he's recorded since the 2015-16 season (120 and 108, respectively).
Philadelphia 76ers Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Seth Curry | Shooting Guard - Ben Simmons | Small Forward - Danny Green | Power Forward - Tobias Harris | Center - Mike Scott
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets have been crushing opponents recently. In their last match, they blew out the resurgent Atlanta Hawks 126-102. Nuggets fans had more reason to be excited as new forward Aaron Gordon impressed on debut, scoring 13 points in just 21 minutes.
With Gordon in the side, the Denver Nuggets now possess one of the strongest starting lineups in the league. He will improve their athleticism and shooting from the wing, though he won't necessarily improve their defense.
The defense has been a problem all season long and coach Michael Malone will be looking to rectify it prior to the playoffs. It will be extremely difficult for the Denver Nuggets to make it to the NBA Finals with a bottom-10 defensive efficiency rating.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic has done it all for the Denver Nuggets this season and is rightfully the favorite to win the MVP award. The Serbian center is averaging 26.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.5 assists and has already recorded 12 triple-doubles this season.
Jokic has been at the heart of everything good about the Denver Nuggets this season. He has frightening effectiveness on offense, with a rating of 132 per 100 possessions and has a league-high in win shares with 10.6.
His box plus/minus is also a league-high 12.1 and is shooting at a career-high from the field, 3-point line and free-throw line.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Jamal Murray | Shooting Guard - Will Barton | Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. | Power Forward - Aaron Gordon | Center - Nikola Jokic
76ers vs Nuggets Match Prediction
Fans will be disappointed not to see Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic face off on Tuesday. The 76ers star's absence gives the Nuggets an advantage. Unfortunately, for the Philadelphia 76ers, Mike Scott is not an adequate replacement for Embiid, particularly not when facing Jokic. It's going to be a long night for the Sixers in the paint who will have to rely on their solid defensive unit to win.
Where to watch the 76ers vs Nuggets Matchup
Local coverage of the game will be shown on NBC Sports Philadelphia and on Altitude TV. It will also be broadcast nationally on NBA TV while fans can also stream it live with an NBA League Pass.