Last night, the Sixers visited Utah and fell apart in the fourth quarter. Tonight, the Sixers will hope for a different and better outcome as they pack up their bags from Salt Lake City and head to Denver for a game against the Nuggets.
If the Sixers falling apart in the fourth quarter is a story that sounds familiar, that’s kind of because it is. In fact, the last time the Sixers played Denver earlier this month the same thing happened. The Sixers had a lead early, lost it late and never recovered to mount a viable comeback from their opposition’s counterattack. At this point watching the Sixers hold onto leads late is like watching Charlie Brown kick a football.
After sitting out last night’s game, Joel Embiid is expected to play tonight and that should give the Sixers a boost on both ends of the court, although whether or not Brett Brown mitigates that by pairing him with Jahlil Okafor remains to be soon.
Expect the Nuggets to be slightly different this time around from earlier this month. Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic, neither of whom played against the Sixers earlier this month, are both returned to the team and playing tonight. With Harris and Jokic back on the squad, the Nuggets are playing smaller than the last time in which they encountered the Sixers, and they’ve seen this shift yield positive results with six of their last nine games entering their “W” column. This may force Embiid to spend less minutes on the court away from the rim where he is most comfortable and more minutes defending the perimeter. In other words, this could be an interesting game for Embiid whose last outing against the Nuggets will not be appearing on his #NBAVote highlight reel.
Maybe tonight is the night Lucy will hold onto the football long enough for Charlie Brown to kick it. And by Lucy hold into the football long enough for Charlie Brown to kick it, I mean “sit Okafor for enough minutes that his defensive incompetency does not hinder the team again.” But with or without Okafor, the Sixers will still find themselves working to combat a Nuggets squad that has recently found success against opposition more competent than the Sixers.