By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high after beating the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. They faced a Denver Nuggets team that was looking to get a statement victory over Philly. The Nuggets used a second-half offensive explosion to beat Philly 114-110.
The Sixers jumped on the Nuggets from the opening tip-off. They were hitting their shots early on. They were led by Joel Embiid who took on the challenge of facing Nikola Jokic. He scored 34-points and grabbed nine-rebounds. He was able to get whatever he wanted from the field. He was attacking the paint and hitting his shots from the perimeter. Embiid continues to set the pace for Philly and was able to get his teammates involved in the game. His chemistry with Harden is growing as well and that will continue to be important as they have 15-games left in the regular season. To continue to develop and get ready for the postseason.
Despite the offensive explosion from Embiid. The Nuggets weathered the early storm and got a big surge from their bench. The second unit kept them in the game and scored 48 of Denver’s 114-points. They were led by Bones Hyland who scored 21-points and hit four three-pointers off the bench. He took full advantage of the Sixers giving him space to get a shot up. His shot-making was pivotal as he hit two clutch three-pointers that put the game away for the Nuggets. Philly just did not have the horses to keep up with Hyland and the other bench players. Especially after playing last night. Despite playing last night a huge issue is still the defensive rotations on the perimeter and in transition. Opposing teams continue to take advantage of Philly’s lack of effort on defense. They will need to fix this if they want to go far in the playoffs.
On what needs to improve on the defensive end, “We got to get our ass back on defense, man,” said James Harden.
The Sixers will need to find some bench production from somebody not named Georges Niang. Over the past two games the team has fallen apart when Embiid and Harden are resting. Somebody must step up and help their team. With Doc Rivers bench rotation still being worked out, the second unit will have to start getting some more production from their bench if they want to keep their important players fresh for the postseason.