In the midst of a six-game east coast road trip, the Denver Nuggets have been a mysterious team. Brian Shaw’s club began the journey by beating the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets by a combined 38 points. But since that triumphant evening in the Barclays Center, the Nuggets have fallen to both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics by double-digits. Those two defeats ended Denver’s seven-game winning streak that propelled the team from the cellar of the competitive Western Conference into the sixth spot in the West’s standings.
Fortunately for the Nuggs, their trip to Philly happens to be against a Sixers squad that is also playing the second half of a back-to-back and is also coming off of a double-digit road whooping. But for former 76ers’ point guard Andre Miller, returning to the Wells Fargo Center is nothing special.
"It’s just another game," Miller said after his Nuggets fell to the Celtics 106-98 on Friday night in Boston.
However, as Miller pulled on his black Denver sweat suit in the TD Garden visiting locker room, the savvy veteran spoke very highly of the Sixers’ current starting point guard—well, when healthy—Michael Carter-Williams.
"I paid attention to him at the start of the season, but I think he’s hurt right now," Miller said. "But from what I’ve seen, he’s going to be good player, especially if he can keep shooting it."
Denver’s starting point guard, Ty Lawson, also has recognized Carter-Williams’ impressive play thus far.
"He looks like a mature point guard, way more mature than a rookie should," Lawson, who tweaked his left hamstring in the loss to Boston, said. "He’s really poised man. We have to keep him out the lane because once he gets into the lane he has a nice floater and can shoot over smaller guards like me. He just makes good decisions."
In between bites of a chicken club sandwich at his locker, Lawson, who expects to play against Philadelphia, noted the two young guards’ height differential as well.
"It goes both ways," he added. "He’s still gotta guard me too, so it definitely works in both our favors. I’ll try to take advantage of him while I can."
Some Denver players also feel they will be able to take advantage of their respective matchups in the frontcourt. The Nuggets’ starting center, J.J. Hickson, especially.
"I think I play way harder than Spencer Hawes. He’s more of a jump shooter, a stretch-five or a stretch-four, whatever you want to call it," Hickson said in Boston. "The game plan changes night in and night out, I just have to do keep doing a good job of individually scrapping with guys."
As previously mentioned, the Sixers return home after receiving a 105-88 drubbing from the Charlotte Bobcats. One thing to keep in mind as Carter-Williams' status for the match up still remains questionable, is that Evan Turner's tremendous play this season has been elevated when MCW is on the floor. In the 15 games MCW has played, Turner averaged 21.9 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the field and 25.6 percent shooting from deep while getting to line 5.7 times a night. With MCW on the injured list, Turner is averaging just 19.2 points on 40.9 percent shooting from the field, 23.5 percent shooting from outside and only 4.0 free throw attempts per game.
And as both teams enter Saturday’s matchup with several players on the their respective injured lists, Miller’s advice for a young MCW probably bodes well for all players involved in this impending matchup with a long season still down the road.
"You’ve just gotta stay healthy," Miller sad. "You don’t need fundamentals to play in the NBA, you just have to stay healthy and be able to put the ball in the basket."