GRADES: Denver Nuggets 115, Philadelphia 76ers 103

Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers battled the Denver Nuggets but couldn’t overcome the lack of talent and active players.

The Philadelphia 76ers were in for a tough game without their top five players by minutes played this season. Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, and Shake Milton missed the game for COVID-related reasons, while Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were ruled out due to injury.

That left the team with seven active players, four of which were rookies with very limited experience. The team battled throughout the first half and took a 43-42 lead before Denver went on a 33-15 run to blow the game open. Fatigue played a major part in the game, with three Sixers playing over 40 minutes and all seven players well above their minutes average for the season.

Tyrese Maxey took advantage of the increased role and finished with a career-high 39 points. The offense ran through the young point guard and he thrived in the spotlight. While Maxey shined, the rest of the team struggled majorly. Danny Green, Isaiah Joe, and Dakota Mathias combined to shoot 13-48 and all three looked uncomfortable trying to create their own shots.

A+. <strong>44 mins | 39 pts | 7 reb | 6 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 2 TO | 18-33 FG | 3-8 3PT| 0-0 FT | 3 PF | – 17 |</strong><p>Maxey was fearless from the opening tip, scoring 20 points in the first half. He got wherever he wanted off the dribble, consistently hitting his signature floater and making crisp passes. Almost all of the offense ran through the rookie, who was the only bright spot in a rough loss.</p>. PG. Philadelphia 76ers. TYRESE MAXEY

C. <strong>45 mins | 13 pts | 4 reb | 2 ast | 1 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO |  4 -18 FG |  3-11 3PT|  2-2 FT | 1 PF | -14 |</strong><p>The rookie started 4-7 from the field before missing his last 11 shots from the field. Joe had only played 27 total minutes this season and was definitely not prepared to play 45 minutes. Fatigue played a major role in his second-half struggles.</p>. SG. Philadelphia 76ers. ISAIAH JOE

DANNY GREEN. D. <strong>36 mins | 11 pts | 3 reb | 5 ast | 2 stl | 1 blk | 3 TO | 4-17 FG | 2-7 3PT| 1-3 FT | 4 PF | – 13 |</strong><p>Green is great at playing his role but can’t do much beyond it. This game reinforced that. Green looked uncomfortable doing anything off the dribble and couldn’t get into a rhythm without having offense created for him. As a veteran who should step up, Green gets graded harsher than the rookies for his struggles.</p>. SF. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers. DAKOTA MATHIAS. C. <strong>41 mins | 12 pts | 1 reb | 5 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 1 TO | 5-13 FG | 2-5 3PT| 0-1 FT | 3 PF | -17 |</strong><p>Mathias looked very uncomfortable in the first half and was taken advantage of on the defensive end. He looked better in the fourth quarter, throwing a few nice passes and going 3-5 from the field.</p>. SG

<strong>26 mins | 6 pts | 7 reb | 2 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 4 TO | 3-9 FG | 0-1 3PT| 0-0 FT | 1 PF | +13 |</strong><p>The box score numbers don’t look great, but Reed provided strong energy and activity off the bench and was a team-high +13. The rookie second-round pick was a key part of the Sixers’ early success by attacking the offensive glass and staying active on defense. Reed has a long way to go skill-wise but the effort is there.</p>. SF. Philadelphia 76ers. PAUL REED. B

Despite Maxey’s efforts, the Nuggets were clearly the better team. Nikola Jokic finished one rebound shy of a triple-double and the rest of the team did enough to hold off the Sixers. Denver is fresh off the Western Conference Finals and has legitimate championship aspirations, so there is no shame in losing to them shorthanded.

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With so many players missing, there isn’t much to take away from this game, although we did get a chance to see the rookies in the spotlight. While Maxey showed that he is ready for more minutes, the rest still have to earn theirs.