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Denver Nuggets @ Philadelphia 76ers: Jokic resurgent, defensive experiments and punchy offenses | NBA News

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets go head-to-head in this weekend’s live divisional clash at the Wells Fargo Center. We take a look at the key elements of this battle of fiery offenses, including the ‘Nikola Jokic’ factor and their opponents’ crafty defensive maneuvers.

The Joker and his tricks

Nikola Jokic isn’t always ‘so serious’. Following his team’s 107-99 capitulation to the Milwaukee Bucks, instead of dwelling on the loss, he caught a couple making out in the stands while taking part in a post-game interview and stopped to commemorate their shared joy. How wholesome.

But there are definitely some comparisons to make between the Nuggets talisman and the man who inspired his nickname; Jokic can’t make pencils disappear, but he sure can emulate that trick with opposing defenders.

Indeed, the Nuggets are 20.8 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court, and have been virtually unstoppable in offense, notching a 20-4 record since December, all the while continuing to rack up triple-doubles.

The fact that the Nuggets are now starting to win even without their star man is a big sigh of relief for all involved in the Denver sphere. It means more rest time for the two-time MVP winner, more rotation for the returning Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., and more options for Mike Malone. Everybody wins (except the 76ers).

Philly’s new defensive move

With five wins on the road, all against Western opposition, and plenty of games featuring absentees, it makes you wonder what the 76ers are doing right. Well, that’s starting De’Anthony Melton.

Melton was part of a big trade move last June, in which the Sixers sent Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies. Since his arrival, he’s putting up 10.9 points a game, but more importantly, 4.5 rebounds.

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Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) takes a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Part of that is because his inclusion provides some defensive support to James Harden, allowing Tyrese Maxey to push up further and guard the perimeter better.

With all the injuries that have plagued this team, Melton has been their saving grace, both defensively and offensively (he’s shooting 39 percent from deep).

They’ll need to continue relying on ‘Mr Do Something’ if they are to somehow snuff out Jokic and co.

Battle of the offenses

Harden, Maxey and Embiid have hardly had any time to play together, Jokic has only just returned from a small spell on the sidelines as Murray and Porter Jr. become more accustomed to regular game time.

Let’s face it, these aren’t the two fittest teams in the NBA – but they do have some of the most compelling attacks, there’s no other reason why they are the top two seeds in the West Conference.

Which will emerge triumphantly? Jokic is averaging a whopping triple-double per game every time he starts.

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Nikola Jokic was decisive for the Denver Nuggets as he notched his 15th triple-double of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Embiid is a dominant presence around the rim – and even more uncontainable inside the paint (good luck to Aaron Gordon).

If his supporting act is up to the task, this is a clash that has another masterclass from the Joker written all over it. Perhaps the 76ers won’t feel as aggrieved if it comes at the hands of the man currently dominating the league’s scoring stats.

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