Wed. Nov 13th, 2019

Philly’s Top Five

What Makes Philly, "Philly"

Three things to watch as Sixers take on Nuggets Friday night

3 min read

The Philadelphia 76ers are suddenly scuffling. After jumping out to a 5-0 start, the team has dropped two-straight on a tough west coast road trip. They’ll wrap that trip up on Friday night as they look to get back on track against the Denver Nuggets. Here are three things we’ll be watching as the Sixers look to end the trip on a high note.

How does Ben Simmons’ absence affect the rotation/who steps up?

The Sixers will be without their All-Star point guard, who injured his shoulder Wednesday against the Jazz. With him out, the Sixers face questions as to who slots into the starting lineup and who can step up to fill the void.

The most likely move is that Josh Richardson slides over to the one, with two candidates available to take his spot at the two: Furkan Korkmaz or Matisse Thybulle. When Joel Embiid has been out, Brett Brown moved Al Horford and Tobias Harris up to the five and four respectively and elected to go with Thybulle. But it will likely be Korkmaz on Friday, as he provides a better offensive option. It will be interesting to see what Brown does.

As far as the rotation, Simmons’ absence opens minutes for Raul Neto, who provided a spark in the win over Portland last weekend and played the bulk of Simmons’ minutes on Wednesday. Shake Milton is another candidate for extra minutes, as is Trey Burke, who has been unable to carve out a role so far in the young season. This could be his opportunity.

As for who steps up, it will likely have to come from a member of the starting lineup. Joel Embiid, as the team’s best player, is an obvious candidate. Al Horford showed he still has big games in him in Monday’s game against the Suns. But it could be Josh Richardson’s performance that ends up determining how the game goes.

Simmons’ absence creates a bunch of questions for the Sixers, and it will be interesting to see how they answer them.

Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic

We’ll be treated to a battle of elite big men on Friday night as Embiid and Jokic do battle. A debate erupted over the summer over who is better, and there’s nothing like a head-to-head battle to help answer the question.

Jokic’s play hasn’t lived up to the level he has set for himself this season, as he is averaging 14.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on 46% shooting. Last season he averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists.

Embiid, meanwhile, is averaging 24.3 points, 11.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. The big man always seems to elevate his game against other elite centers, and he surely wants to make a statement against Jokic.

Sixers rebounding

The Sixers have been dominant on the glass to start the season, pulling down 47.3 per game, good for sixth-best in the league. Limiting opponents to one opportunity while generating extra chances for themselves has been key for the team this season.

But they were outrebounded by both the Suns and the Jazz, which perhaps not so coincidentally turned out to be losses. The Sixers went all-in on building an identity around size and defense, and rebounding plays a huge role in that. Having a 6-10 point guard helps, so the absence of Simmons complicates the issue. We’ll be watching the glass closely to see if the Sixers can get back to their dominant ways on the glass. 

 

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