Turns out the Denver Nuggets made the right move in trading Allen Iverson(notes). The 76ers, meanwhile, desperately need the former All-Star to justify the second chance he is getting in Philadelphia.
Iverson will start for the 76ers in his first home game at the Wachovia Center in three years Monday night, facing one of his former teams in the surging Nuggets.
Denver (15-5) thought it had the perfect complement for Carmelo Anthony(notes) in its up-tempo offense when it acquired in Iverson from Philadelphia on Dec. 19, 2006. The Nuggets, though, lost in the first round of the playoffs two straight seasons with Iverson, then traded him to Detroit as a part of a deal for Chauncey Billups(notes) on Nov. 3, 2008.
While Billups sparked the Nuggets to 54 wins last season and has been an essential part of their hot start in 2009-10, Iverson has been a bench player for his last two teams.
The 34-year-old guard played most of last season with the Pistons and complained about his reserve role. He had a similar experience with Memphis before the team and Iverson decided to part ways Nov. 16.
A 10-time All-Star, Iverson was brought back by the 76ers (5-15) on Wednesday, signing a non-guaranteed deal after announcing his intention to retire the previous week. Named league MVP en route to leading the Sixers to the NBA finals in 2001, Iverson practiced with the team Sunday and coach Eddie Jordan said he will start this game.
“I told him for 14 years I heard how you hate coming out of the game. Now they’re telling me you’ve got to get him out if he’s tired,” Jordan said at Monday’s shootaround, laughing. “He’s going to tell me. The first time I’m coaching Allen Iverson, I am not taking him out until he tells me.”
Philadelphia needs all the help it can get. The 76ers have lost nine straight for the first time since a 12-game skid from Nov. 25-Dec. 20, 2006, which was snapped three days after trading Iverson.
The Sixers are coming off a 106-105 loss to Charlotte on Saturday night. Andre Iguodala(notes) had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists despite turning his right ankle in the first half. He is not listed on Philadelphia’s injury report.
Iverson will likely start in place of Green, who had been playing point guard alongside Iguodala in the backcourt due to Louis Williams’(notes) broken jaw. Williams will be out for a couple of months, while Jrue Holiday(notes), who started five games after Williams was injured, is day to day with a strained right rotator cuff.
Thaddeus Young(notes), starting at forward along with Elton Brand(notes), will likely be matched up with Carmelo Anthony for most of this game. Anthony, averaging an NBA-best 30.4 points, has a chance to become the only player to score at least 20 points in the first 21 games of a season since Iverson did it with Philadelphia at the start of 2005-06.
Anthony had 34 points in a 106-99 win over San Antonio on Saturday night. He has helped the Nuggets win three straight and seven of eight.
Denver is averaging 110.6 points on the season and 115.0 over its last eight contests.
Billups averaged 24.0 points and 7.5 assists to lead Denver to wins in its two games against Philadelphia last season. The Nuggets won three of their last four road matchups with the Sixers.