Heading into Saturday afternoon's game against the Denver Nuggets, the Philadelphia 76ers weren't sure if they would have enough players available to avoid getting the game postponed. On Thursday night, Sixers starting guard Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19 and found out about the results as the 76ers competed against the Brooklyn Nets on the road.
Following Thursday night's loss, the Sixers remained in New York until late Friday night as every player on the roster underwent testing. Outside of Curry, no other players reportedly tested positive. However, that didn't mean everybody could be cleared to play by Saturday afternoon.
Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Vincent Poirier were all ruled out on Saturday as they didn't clear protocol. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid, Paul Reed, and Danny Green were available to play despite being listed as questionable on Friday.
Green and Reed suited up for Saturday's game, but Joel Embiid remained out as he's dealing with back stiffness. In addition to Embiid, the 76ers also didn't have Furkan Korkmaz, Terrance Ferguson, and Ben Simmons available, leaving the team with just eight players on the bench, with the eighth player being Mike Scott, who had zero chances of actually playing according to his head coach, Doc Rivers.
Due to injuries and COVID-related setbacks, the Sixers trotted out an unusual starting lineup of the two rookies Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe, the two seasoned veterans Dwight Howard and Danny Green, and the two-way sharpshooter, Dakota Mathias.
Although the Nuggets shot much better than the Sixers in the first quarter as Denver drained 52-percent of their field goals, Philly's odd lineup kept the game close early on as they trailed just two points heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, the Sixers shot a lot better from the field as they knocked down 42-percent of their shots. While they struggled mightily from beyond-the-arc, Sixers rookie Tyrese Maxey put on a scoring clinic as he knocked down seven of his 10 attempted buckets for 14 points in the second quarter.
For a good portion of the first half, the 76ers put up a good fight, despite being without ten of their players. While Denver began to pull away a little towards the end of the second quarter, the Sixers trailed just seven points heading into halftime.
The third quarter didn't look too promising for the Sixers. As Philly's roster began to grow tired understandably, Denver applied the pressure in the second half as they outscored the Sixers 35-21 coming out of the locker room. By the time the 76ers and the Nuggets were gearing up for the final quarter, Philly trailed 21 points.
With a good portion of their players out, the Sixers didn't stand a chance against the Nuggets. In the end, Denver collected a 115-103 win. While the Sixers are disappointed to fall to 7-3 on the year, they can feel good about their first-round rookie Tyrese Maxey wrapping the evening up with 39 points in 43 minutes of action.