The shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers will look to rebound following a disappointing loss when they host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.
The Sixers fell 122-109 Thursday on the road against the Brooklyn Nets, who played without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Philadelphia will be without Seth Curry (ankle, COVID-19 list), Mike Scott (knee) and Furkan Korkmaz (abductor). Curry didn’t play Thursday, was informed of a positive test in the first quarter and subsequently left the arena. ESPN reported that the Sixers are expected have multiple players miss time due to contact tracing.
Curry is shooting nearly 60 percent from beyond the arc. But in the loss to the Nets, the Sixers were 9 of 26 on 3s.
Still, the Sixers have won seven of nine games under new head coach Doc Rivers.
Joel Embiid had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Ben Simmons looked lethargic with 11 points and only two assists. One bright spot was rookie Tyrese Maxey’s 16 points and consistent improvement.
“I thought he played great,” Rivers said. “I thought he was the one guy that came in the game with great energy and tried to run stuff for us.”
Shake Milton led the Sixers with 24 points starting in place of Curry. Milton will likely need another strong performance against the Nuggets with Curry sidelined. Unlike the Nets, the Nuggets aren’t going to be without their two stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
“It’s the NBA and it was a back-to-back, but guys in the NBA know they can play,” Milton said. “So if you don’t come out and you’re not on top of your game and you’re not ready to go, not mentally locked in, you can get beat by anybody.”
The Nuggets are coming off a 124-117 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.
Despite the defeat, it was one of the most thrilling games in the league this season as Jokic had 20 of his 38 points in the second half and overtime. Jokic also scored the tying basket in regulation while grabbing 11 rebounds. Murray added 21 points and nine assists.
“We had the game. We had the game,” Murray said. “We just didn’t close it like we should have.”
The Nuggets — who advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season — are off to a difficult start with three wins in eight games despite a plethora of talent.
“It should never have gone to overtime,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “We’re up one with seven seconds to go and we give up a wide-open 3-pointer. All you need is one stop.”
It’s unclear whether Michael Porter Jr. will be available to play against the Sixers. Porter was expected to be available for the game against the Mavericks but was scratched several hours before because of health and safety protocols.
Porter has missed four games in a row for contact tracing.
“He’s not here right now, so I’m not even going to speak on that,” Malone said. “We have guys that are talented, have been in the league. They got to step up and help us play. We’ll speak about Michael when he gets back to our team.”
–Field Level Media