76ers vs. Nuggets Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Life without Joel Embiid has been a nightmare for the Sixers, who have lost five in a row without their leading scorer. Next up will be a date with the Nuggets on the road, a team which is riding a hot streak on offense and features one of the league’s best interior scorers.
Will anything change here for the Sixers, or will things continue to spiral out of control?
76ers Battling Without Embiid
The same thing that has plagued the Sixers for the last five games will rear its ugly head on Thursday — Joel Embiid will miss yet another game under the league’s health and safety protocols.
The Sixers have not won a game since Embiid went on the shelf last Monday, and they’ve lost Matisse Thybulle to the health and safety protocols along with Embiid. This has hampered Philadelphia’s ability to score, and it’s dealt a critical blow to its defense, both inside and out.
While much has been made about Embiid’s impact on the offensive end, the aforementioned issues on defense are the biggest issue right now. In the last five games, the Sixers have ranked 28th of 30 teams in Defensive Efficiency. Their 106 points per 100 possessions is actually somewhat impressive given the injury to Embiid and the loss of Danny Green, who will miss another game due to a hamstring issue.
Philadelphia has the rotation players to get it done in the scoring column, with some great contributions out of Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton against the Jazz on Tuesday, but it got taken to school inside by Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.
The Sixers also had to endure a miserable 27 minutes from Tobias Harris on the offensive end. Perhaps a combination of a slightly less efficient offense and some positive regression from Harris is enough to get this team contending again on Thursday without Embiid.
Nuggets Taking a Defensive Leap Forward
The Nuggets have made their mark on the defensive end this year, ranking third in Defensive Efficiency in the early going, but over the last five games it’s been their offense which has been on point. They lead the league in points scored per 100 possessions in that span, and a lot of their success has not come inside.
It’s not surprising to hear that a team with Nikola Jokic has ranked sixth in field goal percentage inside 10 feet over the last 10 games, but somehow, that’s actually a drop-off from Denver’s season-long number. While they’ve shot inside 10 feet around 1% more frequently than their season total would indicate, they’re still in the middle of the pack when it comes to shooting the ball up from close.
The Nuggets have simply hit more threes over the last five games, raising their mark from 31.2%, where they sit for the season, to 34.8%. In terms of their shot selections and their pace, nothing else has really changed for Denver.
Michael Porter, Jr. will continue to sit on the shelf for this game, and Will Barton was listed as doubtful as of this writing. The Nuggets have missed his scoring, but they’ve reached deep into their bag to get contributions from Jeff Green and Bones Hyland.
All in all, this is a defense which is still among the best in basketball, it’s a team that will slow the game to a painstakingly slow pace, and it will score inside with Jokic, even if it doesn’t pull from close as frequently as you’d think. The Nuggets have found a burst of offense behind Jokic’s 27.5 points per game over the last five games and some extra 3-pointers.
The Sixers’ perimeter defense is hurting at the moment without Thybulle, and Andre Drummond has been exposed as a less-than-ideal post defender. This is simply a horrible matchup for Philadelphia’s defense.
The pace in this game will be slow, giving the Sixers fewer chances to come back if and when they fall behind early in this contest. There are plenty of positives to take away from these Embiid-less games like the play of Maxey, but none of the highlights have led to any wins.
It’s just hard to see the Sixers keeping this game close after the way they were manhandled down low by the Jazz and terrorized from deep. Denver is just a notch below Utah on both ends of the floor, but they should cover.
Pick: Nuggets -8 (-115)