By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers came into this afternoon’s prime-time match-up against the Denver Nuggets with only eight players. A positive covid-19 test on Thursday night. Left the Sixers with only nine players not in the league’s Covid-19 health protocols. But even shorthanded they did all they could against a healthy Nuggets team. However, it was not enough as they got destroyed 115-103. The loss snaps a 20-game win streak inside the Wells Fargo Center.
Early in the game it was not looking good for Philly. The Nuggets hit their first 8 shots and quickly got out to a 10-2 lead. The game was threatening to get away from the Sixers. Rookie guards Tyreese Maxey and Isaiah Joe took full advantage of their opportunities. Both combined for 50 of Philly’s 103-points. Maxey scored a career high 39-points, and he did it from the perimeter and attacking the basket. The Nuggets had no answer for him. When they tried to take him away, Philly would use their ball movement to get it out to Joe. Who also was hitting his shots he scored 11-points and hit three three-pointers.
His coach wanted him to get 40-points, “Bro, you got to at least throw it up at the rim on that one [to go for 40],” said Doc Rivers.
Despite this offensive output from their rookies. Denver was able to keep the young Sixers down because of the combined scoring of center Nikola Jokic (15-points), guards Gary Harris (21-points), and Jamal Murray (14-points). The trio combined for 50 of Denver’s 115-points. Jokic was able to have free reign to the basket without Joel Embiid who did not play in this game because of back tightness. Jokic was able to attack the basket and get the Philly defenders in foul trouble. When he was shutdown, he got the ball to a wide-open teammate. It was not a particularly good night for him, but he made the timely decisions that help put the Nuggets ahead.
While this game was just their 10th game of the season, the Sixers coaches learned more about what the team had. As they were extremely shorthanded and got a chance to see some young players over an extended period and they learned a lot about Maxey and Joe. Who seem like they might be the steals of the draft for Philly.
On Maxey, “I didn’t know he could score 39 points in an NBA game. He’s going to be a terrific player, he’s going to keep getting better, he’s going to keep getting smarter,” said Rivers.
The Sixers now head into a Monday night match-up with the young Atlanta Hawks. Hopefully, the Sixers will have more players available then the eight they had tonight. Either way this is the new reality during this pandemic. The Sixers will need to have as many bodies as they can if they want to keep Atlanta’s shooters in check.