Denver can look to right the ship against the best team in the East… if the game is even played
Following a heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime, the Nuggets embark on a three-game East Coast road trip. First on the docket is the Philadelphia 76ers, who at 7-2 have the NBA’s best record and look like a brand new team under Doc Rivers.
On paper this is a tantalizing matchup. For one, it would be another showdown between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, who has been a monster this year averaging 24.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Jokic is putting up an even more impressive 25.9/11.6/10.9, yet Denver’s 3-5 record is doing him no favors in garnering MVP consideration. The Sixers are a real litmus test for the Nuggets, who have struggled mightily to open the season, only earning wins against a depleted Houston Rockets and a Karl-Anthony Towns-less Minnesota Timberwolves.
But will this game even happen?
Sixers guard Seth Curry tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday and was removed from the sidelines of Philadelphia’s game in Brooklyn. Since then, the team spent almost all of Friday in the hotel awaiting the results of testing before being bussed back to Philadelphia Friday night. Even then, the availability of at least eight players, the league’s mandated minimum, is up in the air; as it stands, Philadelphia only has six available to play.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers are awaiting the league’s decision on the contact-tracing report of players who had been in proximity to Curry. Per ESPN’s Tim Bontempts, seven players, including Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, are questionable for health and safety reasons.
Sixers on the latest injury report:
Seth Curry (health and safety), Terrance Ferguson (personal) and Mike Scott (left knee contusion) are out.
Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Vincent Poirier, Paul Reed and Matisse Thybulle are all questionable (H&S).
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 9, 2021
The hope is at least two of them will be declared eligible in time for Saturday’s 1:00 PM MST tip-off. If not, the game will surely be re-scheduled, similar to the Houston Rockets – Oklahoma City Thunder opening night match that was also postponed for health and safety reasons.
In the meantime, the Nuggets have indeed traveled to Philadelphia and like everyone else await the NBA’s decision. If the game does get played (whether or not it should is a different discussion), it seems plausible that it would be against a very shorthanded roster. If not, they get an extra day to prepare for the Knicks on Sunday.