Dec. 06, 2016
Key Matchups For The Sixers Against Denver
Most people would probably think the guy to watch out for on the Nuggets tonight is Jamal Murray. Those people would be wrong
Here are the key matchups that if the Sixers don't win, it could easily lead to a Denver win.
Point guard: Emmanuel Mudiay is a problem. He is an elite young player capable of dropping 40 on you, and he could easily have a big game if the Sixers' point guards play the kind of defense they have all season. He can also cause problems for Sergio Rodriguez with his size, length, and quickness. Jameer Nelson might not be the same player he was in Orlando anymore but he can still drop 20 on you and probably will be a problem the exact same way Augustin was for the Magic. If Sergio doesn't have a big game and get the rest of the team playing at its absolute best, this game could be a blowout.
Shooting Guard: This is Denver's other major strength. At shooting guard, Will Barton might still be an unknown to some but he shouldn't be. The 6'5" pure scoring swingman can hang 40 on you if you give him enough opportunities and can get hot from beyond the arc. Jamal Murray is talented as well but Barton is the guy the Sixers need to stop. Luckily neither of these guys play any defense so the Sixers can win this matchup if Gerald Henderson has a great game on both ends and Stauskas and Hollis Thompson both at the very least provide the kind of offense they're capable of.
Small Forward: This is where the Sixers are really going to miss Robert Covington. Not only do they need his shooting, rebounding, and offense -and he could have easily had a big game against Gallinari and everybody but Wilson Chandler- but where they miss him the most will be defensively. Gallinari is having a down year compared to last year but he is an elite scorer and shooter and will destroy both Hollis and Stauskas if they don't make life tough for him on the defensive end, and Wilson Chandler is a consistent scorer and shooter and a tough defender and really one of the most underrated players in the game. Either Denver player can easily win this small forward matchup on his own. The key here will be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot playing a good amount and being aggressive on offense while playing the kind of defense he's easily physically capable of.
The Sixers can easily win the matchups at power forward and Center, as Nurkic is literally the only player available for the Nuggets who is big enough to play Center and the combination of Dario Saric and Ilyasova can both provide tough matchups for Faried while the undersized Richuan Holmes can really use his skillet, athleticism, and energy to pose a problem on both ends against really everybody other than Faried. The key will be getting Nurkic into foul trouble and getting Ilyasova and Saric going offensively. We already know what Embiid is capable of night in and night out.
This is a winnable game for the Sixers but if they play the way they have at point guard and the two wing positions over the majority of this season, it could easily be a blowout loss. Jamal Murray can get his little twenty or maybe thirty but these aforementioned players are what will kill the Sixers if they let them.