Philadelphia 76ers vs. Denver Nuggets: Predictions, Starting Lineups (1/27/24)

The reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets (31-15) host the Philadelphia 76ers (29-14) in a nationally televised game on Saturday (1/27/24) at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Betting odds have the Nuggets as the favorites at -5.5 against the spread, while the over/under is set at 228.5 total points.

This article provides in-depth analysis of this 76ers vs. Nuggets matchup, including odds, starting lineups, key matchups, and a prediction that the Nuggets will cover the spread.

76ers vs. Nuggets Prediction

One of the highlights of the NBA season for the last few years has been the handful of head-to-head matchups between the two most dominant big men of this generation and the winners of the last three NBA MVP awards – Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. Embiid and Jokic – in that order – are once again the two leading candidates for MVP this season.

Embiid has missed one of the two matchups between these teams in each of the last two seasons. On Thursday night it looked like that might be the case again, as Embiid landed awkwardly early in a game against the Pacers and appeared to tweak his knee, but he is reportedly good to go and off the injury report for this game. Jokic also got poked in the eye against the Knicks that night and looked like he might be questionable for this game, but reportedly is also expected to play.

This will be the 9th meeting between these two superstar centers, with Embiid holding a 6-2 edge in the previous eight. He has scored 40+ points in the last two games when he’s faced Jokic, including in a 126-121 win less than two weeks ago (Jan. 16) in Philadelphia. It’s always must-see TV when these two players square off, as seven of their eight head-to-head matchups have been decided by seven points or fewer.

That might not be the case this time. At full strength, these are two very evenly matched teams, but the 76ers are far from full-strength right now. While Embiid is fine, both Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are questionable, and the rotation is also thin with several other key contributors currently on the injury report (more details below).

Both teams are coming off double-digit losses, and the Nuggets’ 122-84 loss to the Knicks was by far their worst loss of the season. They have been much better at home (17-4) this season than they have been on the road (14-11). They are also 11-9-1 ATS at home this season and just 8-16-1 on the road (the second-worst road cover rate in the league).

We like the Nuggets to bounce back from an embarrassing performance and take care of business against this banged-up 76ers team. Embiid might outscore and outduel Jokic like he has done in the last few head-to-head matchups, but the rest of the Nuggets’ team is much better than the depleted 76ers right now, especially if Maxey and/or Harris can’t play.

76ers vs. Nuggets Prediction: Nuggets -5.5 (-110)

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76ers vs. Nuggets Best Odds

The Nuggets are favored in this game at -5.5 against the spread and -225 on the moneyline. The 76ers’ moneyline odds are +180. The over/under in this game is set at 228.5 total points.

76ers Starting Lineup

PG: Tyrese Maxey
SG: Kelly Oubre Jr.
SF: Nicolas Batum
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Joel Embiid

Nuggets Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr.
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

76ers vs. Nuggets Injuries

The 76ers have two starters on the injury report – Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris – who could miss this game. Joel Embiid appeared to injure his knee on Thursday against the Pacers, but is not on the injury report. Philadelphia has also been missing several rotational players for multiple games, including De’Anthony Melton, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris Sr., and Mo Bamba.

The Nuggets also have multiple starters and rotation players on the injury report – most notably Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon – but they are all expected to play.

76ers vs. Nuggets Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for 76ers vs. Nuggets below.

Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid

Naturally the most important matchup in this game is between the two superstar centers. Embiid has generally gotten the better of Jokic in their eight head-to-head matchups. He has outscored him in each of their last four matchups and is averaging over 5 points more per game (27.6 vs. 22.3) and one more rebound per game (11.3 vs. 10.1). True to form, Jokic has been the much better playmaker (6.9 assists vs. 4.4) and the more efficient player (.545 vs. .517 eFG%).

One area where Embiid could be more effective against Jokic is drawing fouls. While Embiid remains the league leader in free throw attempts per game (12.2 per game this season), he has not been able to get Jokic into foul trouble when they have matched up. Jokic has had more than 4 fouls only once, in their first ever meeting back in 2016.

Part of the reason for that is that the Nuggets don’t always use Jokic as the primary defender on Embiid. Jokic is also good at defending without fouling (or just not defending and therefore not fouling).

Given their injury issues, the Sixers need Embiid to dominate if they want to win this game on the road. Those injury issues are the main reason we picked the Nuggets to cover the spread in our 76ers vs. Nuggets prediction. If Embiid can get Jokic into foul trouble, that would not only be a good sign that he was dominating the game but it would also help to neutralize the Nuggets’ depth advantage.

Three-point shooting

Neither of these teams is a particularly prolific three-point shooting team. They are both bottom-five teams in terms of both the percentage of their points and the percentage of their field goal attempts that come from beyond the arc. They are also both middle-of-the-pack in three-point percentage (Nuggets 37.1%, 76ers 36.7%).

However, three-point shooting was a meaningful advantage for Philadelphia in the last meeting 11 days ago. The 76ers shot 48.4% on 31 attempts from three in that game. If they can do that again, they will have a much better chance of winning this game, let alone covering the spread. They also might need a hot shooting night like that to help make up for the offense they’re missing because of injuries. On the other hand, if the Nuggets can win the three-point battle this time, they should have no problem winning and covering.

Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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